Sunday, June 14, 2009

Save Your Own Life: Fitness Matters In More Ways Than You Think

Back when I still bought newspapers, I made a point of reading Mary Mitchell's columns. I've grown disenchanted with most print media over the past few years. I don't read the local papers anymore. I generally don't even read them online. Mary Mitchell came to mind recently, and I decided to see what she was up to at the Chicago Sun-Times. I ran across the following column: http://www.suntimes.com/news/mitchell/1602487,CST-NWS-mitch02.article

My goodness. I'm delighted that she's a survivor. But I'm also alarmed (yet again) at how so many African-American women are beset with various ailments. I recently mentioned to a friend how it feels like every time I turn around I hear of a Black female acquaintance who has been diagnosed with some condition.

I'm tired of hearing these things. We need to do better about protecting our health. Regular check-ups matter. Nutrition matters. Maintaining a healthy weight matters. Fitness matters. These things matter in more ways than most of us realize.

It's never too late. I talked about this in the first Wildest Dreams post ("Have Your Own 'Wildest Dreams' Tour, Part 1: Get Your College Body Back!")http://muslimbushido.blogspot.com/2009/01/have-your-own-wildest-dreams-tour-part.html

Anthony DiLuglio is a personal trainer who has produced a series of kettlebell exercise videos called The Art of Strength. I have one of his kettlebell workout videos. I was surprised to later learn that he was undergoing treatment for cancer while he was shooting the exercise video. http://aosvid.com/media/Surviving_full.pdf

He has also helped other cancer survivors: http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/03/27/his_path_to_recovery_paved_with_kettlebells/ I wasn't able to embed the video (I'm having some problems with Blogger), but it's worth watching the video that's part of the "Kettlebells and Cancer" section of this newsletter. http://www.artofstrength.com/MinuteofStrengthENews/MinuteofStrength116/tabid/730/Default.aspx

I haven't been talking much about my workouts since I finished the Wildest Dreams Check-In series of posts, but I'm still exercising. I hope you're getting your exercise too.

78 comments:

StandTall-The Activist said...

"We need to do better about protecting our health. Regular check-ups matter. Nutrition matters. Maintaining a healthy weight matters. Fitness matters. These things matter in more ways than most of us realize" that Khadija has captured everything. We need to, we have to.

Tam said...

Great post. I have been on a continuous self improvement plan probably since I was 15 years old.

I have watched many women members of my family become diagnosed with many preventable ailments. It almost seemed as if it is a rite of passage to say I have hypertension or early onset diabetes.

I watched my grandmother go into renal failure ultimately ending in her death. I miss her so much. My grandmother received dialysis three days a week. She had to be at the center by 4:30 am, but she was a trooper. I think it hit me just how horrible this diabetes - renal failure was when I read one of the documents she had. They called it End Stage Renal Failure. There is no help at that stage.

I know that I, because of family history am susceptible to these maladies. I know that where I carry my weight (in the mid section) makes my chances of getting diabetes, heart disease etc. easier

As a matter of fact I am on my way to re up on the veggies and fruits I eat every day. I don't want to go down a preventable road. For me this is not rite of passage.

Southland Diva said...

I can testify having a healthy body makes all the difference. I had laparoscopic abdominal surgery last Wednesday; was discharged the following day and I am happy to report I am on the mend and healing nicely. My recovery has been aided by the fact that I exercise six days a week. Why you ask? I currently work as a Yoga/Exercise Instructor. Consequently I am in the gym most of day. Not to mention my best friend is also an Instructor and what do we do for fun????? Yep, we work out!!

I am not saying you must work out six days a week, but three or four days a week of cardio and or weight bearing exercise is necessary. For cardio; walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, eliptical or treadmill. For weight bearing exercises; Yoga, Pilates, weight machines or free weights. And no, you will not look like Mr. Olympia (or Ms. Olympia for that matter)if you use weights because (A) you are not likely to lift heavy enough to develop sufficient bulk and (2) if you're a woman, females generally don't make enough testosterone for that type of muscle building.

Oh, and dudes, you are not excused. You guys need to take your health seriously, too!

Peace

Delishmish said...

I sometimes fall off the bandwagon as it were...but I have found that 30 mins a day of breaking some kind of sweat is essential. Several months ago I was "religiously" hitting the treadmill daily, or attending a rigorous yoga class, and I was truly astounded by how quickly my er, "situation" started to change.

Similarly, I try to watch my sugar and carb intake as much as possible...some days, I MUST have chocolate..and I do. For me, the trick is not to deprive myself. If I do have something, I won't beat myself up about it. I really think the key for us as BW is to literally keep moving...and DON"T listen to ANY person who tries to convince you that your fat is actually curves....Fat is fat...and it is NOT the birthright of BW to be fat and unwell. They USUALLY go hand in hand.

I also try to do a lot of organic foods...and I eat in a seasonal way too. I don't insist on having cherries in January when they are not in season...for example.

I'm not a vegetarian, (I may be one day though) but I do limit my intake of milk products....or nutritionally devoid white bread...as much as I can anyway. I think I eat pretty well. No soda, plenty of lean protein and vegetables are a staple for me. I also DON'T eat fast food.

I was recently in a certain famous (infamous) town recently...and the thing that I always remember about this particular "city" is that there are NO fast food joints there...not one...yet, when a certain well known donut franchise (now in spectacular trouble) came to town many moons ago, they "decided" to locate their artery clogging enterprise right in the heart of the BLACK neighborhood...and when the "red, I mean blue lights" came on to signify their hot, high fructose "goodies" were ready to clog and fatten, hordes of black and brown people (and a multitiude of cops) lined up to fill their gullets with these delicious/deadly tiny "treats."...and still, not one fast food joint in the other neigborhood, merely a few miles away...I'm just saying!...there are however, many gyms, beauty salons, clothing stores, fancy coffee shops and restaurants which give you the smallest, tiniest, lowest caloric foods with a price that is the opposite of the food (iow, heavy, high)Japanese food abounds in this area...and it is NOT because people are dying to eat (although they sometimes do..helllooo blowfish) this food..it is because it is beautifully proportioned, gorgeous, intricate, stylish and low fat. My apologies to any true lovers of sushi here. I personally enjoy the ritual of eating sushi, and all the components etc, much more than I enjoy the sushi itself....
anyhoo...I know I probably lost some of you on my last statement..that's ok. I stand by what I said. (I have never left a sushi restaurant feeling absolutely sated, unless I only had the tempura ...and that is not sushi.)......

In closing, if you are in the market for a new home, I would run from an area that has many fast food restaurants. It is very telling about the neigborhood.

30 minutes (exercise) a day...and NO fast food...see where that takes you. Try it for a month.

Delishmish said...

My apologies dear Readers for not checking my post before I submitted...hence this statement...

"I was recently in a certain famous (infamous) town recently"

ooops...terribly sorry

Khadija said...

StandTall-The Activist,

You said, "We need to, we have to."-

Yes, we do. That is, if we want to live.
____________________

Tam,

Thank you for your kind words about the post. I truly appreciate it.

You said, "It almost seemed as if it is a rite of passage to say I have hypertension or early onset diabetes."-

I've noticed this too among relatives and acquaintances. Collectively, we've normalized poor (and failing) health! I'm so sorry for your loss of your grandmother.

You said, "As a matter of fact I am on my way to re up on the veggies and fruits I eat every day. I don't want to go down a preventable road. For me this is not rite of passage."-

{raised fist salute}
_______________________

Southland Diva,

Yes, I've read reports of medical studies documenting that regular exercise speeds up the healing process for those who engage in it.
________________________

Delishmish,

You said, "I really think the key for us as BW is to literally keep moving...and DON"T listen to ANY person who tries to convince you that your fat is actually curves....Fat is fat...and it is NOT the birthright of BW to be fat and unwell. They USUALLY go hand in hand."-

{raised fist salute} It always amazes me how AAs defend THE WRONG THINGS. We defend things that are literally killing us. We defend these things as if they somehow constitute our ethnic identity. We defend obesity. Who said "fat = Black"? We defend dysfunctional behaviors as "acting Black." This is madness. It ultimately leads to DEATH.

As to your other point, it's been well documented that AA residential areas are literally barren "food deserts" that are overrun with fast food joints and liquor stores. In most of these areas, you couldn't find some fresh, seasonal produce to save your life.

At the end of the day, I blame us for that. I notice that other ethnic groups are particular about having the fruits, veggies and spices from "back home" available in their neighborhood stores.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Lorraine Spencer said...

Yes our health is so important. I am shaped like my mother and I can see myself as obese as her someday and I am trying to take steps to prevent it now. Nothing is more motivating that seeing my poor mother too big to walk yet she balks are any kind of intervention. She is from the rural south and an old friend of hers (a lab tech, not a doctor) told her not to let a doctor cut on her. Forget that weight loss surgery for her would be life saving. Forget that her doctor told her that she needed a breast reduction to aleve the excessive weight that has already cost her the pigment on her shoulders from the deep groove indentations there. This old way of thinking is commom among many who don't want to commit to do what they need to be healthy. It has been a rough road for me, but I am determined and have been inspired by your posts so thank you. I know what I need to do. I just need to do it!

Thanks to you as well Tam and especially you Delish as I need to call you when I am having a crisis. Your post was enough for me to just throw away the Snickers I bought a little while ago. I have been ridding the cupboards of junk for weeks because it really is not just about me now, it is about my children and providing a good example. It is about my husband and I getting back or close to where we were 14 years ago when were both fit and in shape. We have no excuses. My weight came on after my pregnancies so I can't blame my children. I blame myself for eating all the sugar and high fat diet. I have work to do.

Khadija said...

Lorraine,

You said, "She is from the rural south and an old friend of hers (a lab tech, not a doctor) told her not to let a doctor cut on her."-

I've heard similar things from AAs born and raised here in Chicago. We've got some unhelpful cultural biases at play. [Partly stemming from a history of poverty-induced folk remedies; partly from justified distrust of the White medical system after a long history of medical racism, including inhuman experiments such as the Tuskegee experiment.]

We ALL have our own challenges. After having so many of my relatives succumb, I feel like breast cancer has been stalking me for all these years. But I'm determined to NOT let that particular demon catch me! *Smile* This is why I've been reading Foods That Fight Cancer and Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life by Dr. Servan-Schreiber.

That's why I've been faithfully drinking anti-cancer Japanese sencha green tea everyday. And regularly juicing anti-cancer Brussels sprouts (since I WON'T eat the nasty little things---LOL).

We all have our challenges. None of it is easy. I don't blame myself for what came before. My point is to praise God for the chance to do better; and to keep moving forward.

Lorraine, I salute your determination to move forward. {raised fist salute}-

Let me stress to new readers that I don't speak about any of these issues "from on high." I've got my own challenges. As I said in a post from 10/30/08, The Inner Sanctuary, Part 2: Life Instead of Death:

"I'm really happy that Dr. Servan-Schreiber emphasized that last part about not blaming ourselves for illnesses. I think that's an extremely important point. We can learn how to live differently, and learn how to treat ourselves better without blaming ourselves.

About 6 years ago, I decided to learn how to live differently, and treat myself better. I was having chest pains. I went in for a series of cardiac stress tests. Including the one where they inject a nuclear isotope into you so that it can travel around inside your body, and scan the inside of your heart.

Praise God, it turned out that stress is all it was. I spent some time going to work with nitroglycerin pills dangling from a medical necklace. My doctor insisted that I keep them with me like that, 'just in case.' Just in case I had any further sudden chest pains while waiting to take my scheduled tests. I barely resisted the urge to sarcastically ask her if I should look into getting my own cardiac defibrillator.

My cousin was dying of cancer. Many of my relatives were displaying the same sort of inappropriate behavior surrounding her illness that they did with my aunt. [I described this during Part 1 of True Fellowship.] There were some spectacularly unpleasant things going on at work. That was a point in my life when I realized that I needed to make some changes.

No, I haven't achieved a Dalai Lama state of mental chill. But, I've made some changes and have gotten better at handling certain types of things.

Are you willing to make some changes?"
-

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

For those readers who might not have heard of the Tuskegee experiment, here's a snippet from Britannica's Student Edition:

"Tuskegee-Experiment
a research project conducted by United States Public Health Service (PHS) from 1932 to 1972, in which treatment was withheld from 400 African American men infected with syphilis, in order to study the course of the disease. The study, entitled the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male,” was ended in 1972 after a New York Times story on the experiment caused a public outcry…"

There's also a Wikipedia entry about that particular crime against humanity. Keep in mind that this Nazi-esque medical experiment on that group of AA men continued in operation until 1972.

...1972... I turned 8 that year. This is within my lifetime. This is also within my younger brother's lifetime. He was a toddler when that experiment was finally shut down.
-

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

anna (tertiary#anna) said...

@ Khadija, Lorraine

I think it's also helpful to learn how to judge our medical care. Maybe feeling more empowered in the doctor's office would encourage people to get the care they need.

There are some things I look out for:

1. "Facts, not hunches" There are a lot of pseudoscientific recommendations that take away valuable time and resources for legitimate care. There's a value in "herbal" sources, but that value isn't really known until they're tested (I mean real studies, not anecdotal information.) But people hear buzzwords like "herbal", "ancient", "natural", "organic", and there's no real evidence that it's not snake oil. If you're in an overall good state of health it won't really matter, but if there's an issue, then it's important to know that you're not just getting a placebo effect. Or, more importantly - the folk remedy does work, but has poor quality control and you can't be sure you're properly dosing.

2. Understanding the lingo. There are some good resources to increase our science literacy, and I think this is a critical skill. Some are really basic, like online tutorials, or even teen-level schoolbooks (these are great for getting basic information, and learning the vocabularies of science/medicine.) For more advanced things, there's pubmed, and the library.

3. What's an acceptable level of risk? A particular drug might increase your risk of heart attack by 10%, but if your risk was 0.02% then that 10% is pretty low.

4. What is the treatment's goal? I made this mistake with my dentist, and I'm still angry that I let him replace some perfectly fine amalgams (silver fillings) with composites (the white ones.) I'm also angry that I didn't take a different medication that my doctor suggested, because I didn't understand why I was taking it (and I got spooked.)

5. Being prepared. When seeing the doctor, it's effective to have some questions prepared: what are your concerns, what changes have you noticed and for how long. A little organization here can make the most out of the (typically short) visits. Also, it helps you see if your doctor really is listening to you. If you're wading through a bunch of information, people may appear distant because they are busy trying to mentally sift and process what's being said.

But if you're concise and you're still not happy with your interaction, then you've got a clearer idea that you might want someone else. Or you can feel better about saying that you're unhappy with the dynamic between the two of you.

Also, it's useful to understand how the scientific method works: what makes a good study, and was one used for the drug/treatment you're considering? (Perfect example: the vaccination/autism controversy sparked by fake evidence linking the two.)

I think people feel better when they have information, and the knowledge of how to use it for their own behalf.

Delishmish said...

"We ALL have our own challenges"...said Khadija...

So true. We just have to work through them. I know mine (one of them) is procrastination. I can find a dozen things to do instead of hitting that treadmill. (I'm doing it now)...but as soon as I finish this comment, I am headed there...because I know there is an aggregate positive effect happening, even if I cannot see it right away. In a couple of weeks I will see a muscle "pop up" that was hidden before. That is a great feeling. To know that I am in charge of that....I'm also in charge when it goes the other way unfortunately.(flab)

I really like what Khadija said about BW defending the wrong things..that is an amazing statement..and so true. I was in a well known " whole health food" store the other day, and the checker(a BW) said something to me about "us BW" having to keep our "booty" (as a way to combat the choices she percieved I was making I suppose. Not enough junk food in my basket) I resisted the urge to give her my speech because 1) I think she was just reaching out to me as a BW which I appreciated and 2) I can only save myself, so to speak....

It annoys me (a lot) to hear all of the excuses that BW can make as to WHY they are the size they are...and of course, we all have members of our family as described by Tam ("preventable ailments"..that is PROFOUND) and Lorraine (hello Luv..xoxo..waving)

This is a subject that really causes exteme anger...even now, there are women reading this who are screaming at me I am sure..but they will not dare say anything on THIS matter on THIS blog, although they want to rush in all at once to defend the "fat" people. (By the way, just so I am clear. This is not about "hating fat" people. It is specifically about BW in general needing to DO SOMETHING about our weight collectively. Too many of us are either overweight or obese. We MUST NOT accept this, or be around people who encourage us to "take another biscuit" or who tell us that BW are supposed to have a "booty." (or the famous, "only a dog likes a bone." Meanwhile, that dog (ie a man) spends many hours in the gym finely hueing himself into physical splendor, but he wants to keep YOU fat for his (sexual) enjoyment. Also if YOU are fat, then you will probably have lower self esteem and are more apt to accept his poor behaviour).....You CAN have a "booty" and BE FIT and NOT overweight.)

Don't placidly accept mounds of extra weight upon your body as "aging." Get up, rise up, do something about it.
You are worth it...and it is in your hands..really.
On that note..I am off to do my 30 mins, with my IPOD....when those endorphins rush in I feel so good.

Tracy said...

Hey Khadija!!
What can I say that hasn’t been said countless times already about BW and fitness….We must start taking this as seriously as we take our hair and skin and relationships. In fact, I can tell you from first hand experience that once you start putting your health first, all the rest falls in line.

It is not a difficult thing to do either…I have been on my program since September of 08 and I am now almost 85 pounds down. I have not eaten anything fat free, or had to learn to like raw veggies or take a million supplements. I do eat a better quality and variety of foods and I get plenty of exercise. No, it is not easy, but the exercise part takes about two hours (one hour am, one hour pm) out of my day – we watch tv more than that!

I no longer take medicine for my diabetes, stress levels and blood pressure have gone down considerably, and lately, I have been having to beat men off with a club. Want to attract the opposite sex? Be a sexy, fit, confident BW – now that should motivate anyone!

Ladies, don’t settle for half a life – drop those pounds, get some fresh air, build those muscles and truly live!

Duchy said...

Hello, Khadija,
I am one of your silent avid lurkers of your blog in the UK. I haven't contributed until now. This post just happened to catch me at a very pivotal moment in my life. I recently finished my finals from medical school and I was looking forward to all the things I would do with my free time. But I fell ill. I was ill for a week. It is something that happens to me regularly(i.e. about every other month). The thing is that it's just non-specific colds.
Well, this time I got fed up and started thinking properly about my diet and came upon reams and reams of infor on the internet on the benefits of vegertarianism on health.
Khadija, numerous studies have shown the postive healthful effect it has on the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease etc. All these diseases have their origins in the effects of animal fats.
I strongly urge everyone reading this to go online and research this. Your health depends on it. I only mention this because I know why black people suffer so much- We eat TOO MUCH MEAT. Please. I urge everyone to at least go to this website and read some information:
http://www.pcrm.org/health/veginfo/vsk/index.html

Thank you for letting me use your site to spread some infor, Kahdija. I only found out about this last weekend. I ahve been meat free for only 2 day:) But I'm not stopping now.
You do good work here.
Blessing,
Duchy

Khadija said...

Anna,

Thank you for adding those extremely important points. Let me stress the following:

Any nutritional, fitness-related, etc. regimen should be an adjunct to, NOT a replacement for, conventional medical treatments.

A now-deceased colleague initially played the herbal and prayer game INSTEAD OF surgery and other conventional treatments for her breast cancer. As I mentioned in an earlier post, SHE IS DEAD because of this.

Let me also stress that, as a patient, you MUST assume the ultimate responsibility for your medical care. You CANNOT be passive about your medical care. If you let them, many doctors will treat you like a widget on an assembly line.

The bottome line is that you have to be prepared to walk out on any particular doctor if they refuse to be responsive to your needs.

It's good to have questions prepared for your doctor; but you must be ready to seek another physician if necessary.
-

During one appointment years ago, I asked my-then physician a series of questions about my ailment. The Negro M.D. told me: "This is not medical school." He was shocked when I walked out on him. He was even more dismayed when I first let him know that I was an attorney. And that if I talked to my clients in a similar fashion, I'd end up in front of the disciplinary board.

Apparently, he was used to talking to (passive) patients in an extremely dismissive manner. He hadn't come out of this rude bag with me on previous appointments. In retrospect, I guess that was because I hadn't asked a lot of questions during previous appointments.

[Side note: It's interesting. I've read some research about this, and THIS type of attitude is what leads to malpractice suits. People generally don't sue only because of a bad result. They sue because of a bad result PLUS disrespect.]

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

Delishmish,

You said, "This is a subject that really causes exteme anger...even now, there are women reading this who are screaming at me I am sure..but they will not dare say anything on THIS matter on THIS blog, although they want to rush in all at once to defend the "fat" people. (By the way, just so I am clear. This is not about "hating fat" people. It is specifically about BW in general needing to DO SOMETHING about our weight collectively. Too many of us are either overweight or obese."

Yes, I remember how some folks wanted to lynch both you and Evia simply because you spoke the truth about BW and obesity. I also recall the people who were incensed by the references you made to this issue in your short stories.

My reaction to all of that was: "Did I miss something? Folks are NOT foaming at the mouth about how many AA women are literally dropping like flies due to obesity-related ailments.

But they ARE livid about the alleged 'mockery' being made, and alleged 'lack of empathy for' those who are obese."
-

I don't understand that reaction. I DO understand how "fat" is a feminist issue. I understand the distorted body images that are marketed to women in general. I understand that thin does not automatically = healthy. I understand the mental pressures and emotional issues that underlie a lot of this. I get ALL of that.

However, I also "get" that this is literally a matter of LIFE & DEATH. Personally, I would rather have some hurt feelings, a bruised ego and still BE ALIVE; as opposed to DYING secure in the knowledge that I was accepted as I was.

Not to mention that these are BAD situations; with a LOT of suffering involved. [Warning---I feel a rant coming on.] Let's be real about the ramifications of what we're discussing:

Regarding breast cancer, I saw how my aunt got to the point that morphine was like cough drops, and did NOTHING to ease her pain. I can still remember what it sounded like to hear her moan in pain as she drifted in and out of consciousness.

I was horrified as a small child seeing elders with more and more of their feet missing after diabetes-related amputations.

I was appalled with how (praise God for only a short period of time) my Dad had a plastic bag attached to him to collect his waste after surviving a bout with prostate cancer.

There's nothing nice about any of that. It would seem to me that the focus of any outrage would be on avoiding such a fate, if at all possible.-

And on a much lesser, comparatively trivial level, I can't stand having to take my allergy medication. My goal is to find a way to NOT need the allergy medication. It's not good to have your body dependent upon chemicals. Of any sort. I've seen how one medical dependency leads to another. And another. Until you're taking multiple pills for multiple ailments each day.

How does that sort of dependency work out financially? How does it work out during a crisis? During Katrina, I thought about all the Black folks on diabetes, high blood pressure, and other now "traditional" AA medications. How did not having access to those medications work out for them? Gee, I wonder...

Okay, let me go rest my nerves for a minute...
_____________________

Tracy,

{raised fist salute} I truly admire all that you've done. You've set an excellent example, with your modeling self! *Smile*
______________________

Everybody: Tracy has an excellent post about this issue at her blog! Check it out at:

http://sweet-potatopie.com/2009/06/15/dangit-monique/
________________________

Duchy,

Thank you for de-lurking; welcome aboard! Thank you for your kind words about the blog. I truly appreciate it. And, thanks for the information---I'll check it out.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Miriam said...

I find this whole topic confusing. And truthfully I am wary of doctors.(that's putting it mildly).

Well I did try several diets and one of them (Eat Right for your blood type) said meat was good for type O's. But the problem with meat is all the fat that needs to be avoided because (1) its fat and (2)alot of the hormones or chemicals given to the animals go to their fat (also the peels of fruit and vegetables).

I don't know if I believe that. I don't know what to believe. I do suspect not everything is for everyone.

According to that book it sounded like type A's would do better as vegetarians and AB's with the macrobiotic diet with B's eating whatever. DON'T QUOTE ME. It also listed typical problems each blood type usually end up with if they don't take care of themselves. (example: Os=inflammatory type things like arthitis, ulcers; As=cancer, heart dis.; Bs=viruses;)

I also had to go to a natural doctor once and he recommended that I drink hot water as hot as I could stand. Was that placebo? I don't know. I did feel better shortly afterwards (but then again I have a strong mind-body connection, just worrying can give me pain).

Twice, I had a baby with jaundice. The first one, the doctors were in control and had her under a special light. The second time, Everyone recommended I nurse him and put him out by the sun for a bit. That took care of it.

POint is, my knowledge is very limited in this topic, but I know that there are small fixes that doctors may not recommend because there's no financial gain for them or their company /sponsorers/ pharmeceuticals, etc.

I don't think she blogs anymore but my sister had a blog called Living Essence in which the focus was about BF health. (she's not a doctor).

Khadija said...

Miriam,

Let me repeat:

Any nutritional, fitness-related, etc. regimen should be an adjunct to, NOT a replacement for, CONVENTIONAL medical treatments.

A now-deceased colleague initially played the herbal, "holistic," and prayer game INSTEAD OF surgery and other conventional treatments for her breast cancer. As I mentioned in an earlier post, SHE IS DEAD because of this.
-

I would start with nutritional and fitness changes whose positive benefits are supported by PEER-REVIEWED medical research.

There are a LOT of snake oil peddlers who slap the words "natural," "holistic," "vegetarian," "herbal," "macrobiotic," etc. onto their products in order to make sales.

There are also a lot of people who have semi-food cults operating.

NONE of this is what I'm talking about. For those who are healthy, I'm talking about starting with nutritional and fitness changes whose positive benefits are supported by PEER-REVIEWED medical research.

If a person is already ill, I'm talking about having CONVENTIONAL medical treatments as the foundation of what one is doing.

Let me put it this way: From what I've read, traditional "Eastern" forms of medicine deal with the body's physical environment. And cultivating the patient's internal physical environment in a way that prevents disease processes from taking root and growing in that "soil." This only makes sense in the context of BEFORE a medical crisis (such as cancer, etc.) has developed.

Conventional, "Western" medicine deals with health issues at the point of crisis. AFTER a condition has developed. Conventional, Western medicine is superior for treating acute, medical crises.

The M.D./Ph.D. who wrote the book Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life (who is also a cancer survivor himself, by the way) talked about the PEER-REVIEWED medical research indicating that it takes a matter of years for a person's body to create a cancerous tumor. It's estimated that it takes 5-40 years for a cancer cell to become a cancer tumor.

Khadija said...

Part 2

There are internal processes that support this growth (such as creation of blood vessels to divert nutrients to the developing cancer tumor, etc.).

What this author is talking about is basically keeping one's internal "soil" clean of cancer "weeds" by making nutritional and other changes that interrupt the tumor-generating process. There are certain compounds within various foods that hinder a cancer cell's ability to "hijack" and grow new blood vessels for its own use.

The point of all of the prevention methods that are supported by PEER-REVIEWED medical research are to block the internal processes that enable dangerous conditions to develop. Prevention only works to the extent that a person "catches" the situation BEFORE an internal "weed" (such as a cancerous tumor) has taken root and developed. If you wait until after a medical condition develops in order to make nutritional and other changes, it's NOT "prevention" anymore. At that point, you need reputable, conventional medical TREATMENT.-

Once the medical condition/"weed" is present, I believe that it's best to seek out conventional, "Western" medical treatment. And only use other things as an adjunct to, NOT a replacement for, conventional medical treatments.

Like I mentioned earlier, my colleague initially gambled with the "holistic," "natural," "prayer-based," etc. stuff INSTEAD OF conventional medical treatments. She DIED after several YEARS of suffering.-

She SUFFERED and DIED after the cancer spread. She allowed the cancer to spread by her initial refusal to accept conventional medical treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. She spent many months after diagnosis doing the "holistic," "natural," "prayer-based," etc. stuff instead of conventional treatments.

She gambled. She lost. She paid with intense physical suffering. She paid with her life. I would urge folks NOT to make the same mistake. Don't reject the blessings that God has created by allowing medical/scientific knowledge to advance.-

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Evia said...

Yes, I remember how some folks wanted to lynch both you and Evia simply because you spoke the truth about BW and obesity. I also recall the people who were incensed by the references you made to this issue in your short stories.

Yep, the posse came after us for speaking the truth. Some of those bw in the posse made me out to be a monster. This is exactly how the ABCs and the DBRs have hijacked what used to be known as AA culture. PLENTY of us AAs still have lots of common sense, but whenever you express it, the posses are sent out to lynch you and far too many other AAs just sit back and say and do nothing. Just look at what happened to Alice Walker, Ntozake Shange, C. Dolores Tucker, Bill Cosby, Barack Obama, etc.

And Delish's blazing talent for satire was just savaged by the posse and their supporters. I've encouraged her to keep writing and hope she will continue it when she's done with other priorities.

The same posse is too timid, however, to go after the numerous bm in cyberspace who shred AA women 24-7. If these posses were to go after the bm perps with the same level of savagery, the bm perps would have been contained. Instead, the bm perps flourish without barely any opposition.

I'm so THANKFUL I'm one type of "old-school" AA woman. Even if I tried, I would never succeed at taking marching orders from the ABCs & DBRs--no matter how many posses they send out.

So, Thank you, Khadija, for always speaking out in support of my common sense message. I much later found out that you were supporting my message even before I became fully aware of you. Let me say to you right now that though we may fall out one day--LOL!--(because some folks are definitely trying to cause that), I will ALWAYS be grateful that you have the courage to stand up for truth and justice.


Of course, eating in a healthful manner is not easy (until it becomes a habit), but guess what? LIFE in general IS NOT EASY. Even under the most oppressive conditions, MOST people ***do*** have a degree of choices or they can create those choices. In food-saturated America, you have to dare to have healthy eating habits and a fitness-oriented lifestlye.

But in general, I'm not sure why so many AAs think they're ***entitled*** to an easy life. I guess I may be too "old-school" to ever understand that.

Anyway, the black church near me serves breakfast every Saturday morning and there's endless bacon & sausage, scrambled and fried eggs swimming in oil, buttered biscuits, hashbrowns, pancakes & syrup, sometimes grits with butter, rolls, pastries, plus a sweet juice or other drink + coffee with milk and the various creams.

You rarely see any bm there on Saturday morning. Instead, there's a bunch of bw and black children. And there are sounds of jubilation as they devour that food. When I don't eat the food, they say things like, "You don forgot where you came from."

Eating healthy is a part of an overall lifestyle and we've discussed ad infinitum all the reasons why so many AA women resist or refuse to change their overall lifestyle.

But something else is going on here. These bw are smarter than this. I'm convinced that SOME AA women are just TIRED, and they're trying to commit suicide by eating themselves to death. Though some of them will deny it, they just don't care anymore. I can clearly see this because I don't pay attention to what people say; I watch what they do.

I once had a bad smoking habit. I used to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day for about 7 years. I starting smoked because I thought it was "cool." Then the nicotine just took over, but I quit before I started having children. And I never did it again.

Khadija said...

Delishmish,

Something else occurs to me about the attempted lynchings of you and Evia about your statements regarding "the fat issue."

AAs in general have the bad mental habit of looking for pity parties; looking for other people to feel sorry for us. Basically, you and Evia broke this informal code of conduct ("we must support self-pity, and look to have others feel sorry for us") by speaking in terms of personal responsibility and without encouraging self-pity.

Here's my 2 cents:

AAs need to get it through our heads once and for all that other people DON'T and WON'T feel sorry for us. They DON'T and WON'T have mercy or compassion for us. When we seek pity parties, all we do is increase their contempt for us. We INVITE contempt by looking for pity parties.

When I talk about the Tuskegee atrocity or other atrocities, I'm not looking for sympathy, empathy, or any of that. I'm warning y'all about what the White medical establishment (with the often unwitting collaboration of some Negro medical professionals) has already done to our people. That basic attitude of "We don't care about you. You're less than nothing to us" has NOT changed. It continues to this day.

It continues as HIV/AIDS ravages our people. I'm thinking of quickly-forgotten news stories of how various state child welfare departments were requiring foster parents of HIV+ children to have them take experimental HIV/AIDS medications. This happened in the New York area. There was at least one Chicago-area hospital that was involved in this. This was within the past 5-10 years.

It goes without saying that the vast majority of children in foster care are BM's children (regardless of the race of the mother). It goes without saying that the vast majority of HIV+ children are BM's children (regardless of the race of the mother). So, you know who most of the affected children were.

The bottom line is that NOBODY cares about AA women. NOBODY is going to come to our rescue in response to pitiful statistics, pitiful personal stories, or pitiful conditions. The only thing others will do is laugh in our faces. They will continue to laugh as they watch us die.

We have to care about ourselves. We have to care enough about ourselves to take care of ourselves. To look after our own interests. This includes protecting our health.

The activist group ACT-UP had a slogan: Silence = Death. In our situation, I would say: Pity Party = Death. The sooner we get that through our heads, the better.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

Evia,

You said, "So, Thank you, Khadija, for always speaking out in support of my common sense message. I much later found out that you were supporting my message even before I became fully aware of you. Let me say to you right now that though we may fall out one day--LOL!--(because some folks are definitely trying to cause that), I will ALWAYS be grateful that you have the courage to stand up for truth and justice."-

Before I say anthing else, let me repeat what I've said before on this topic: Evia, I can't possibly thank you and other pioneers like Halima enough. I was extremely disoriented after the Dunbar Village Atrocity & Aftermath shocked me out of my Black Nationalist trance. Your essays (and those of other pioneers) helped me. A LOT. THANK YOU.

Yes, I've also noticed the aspiring instigators, saboteurs, and other online tricksters at play. It's been...fascinating to watch. It's an example of what happens whenever any sort of liberation activism occurs.

I take comfort in these sabotage efforts because they are a natural byproduct of a certain level of success! If the message of freedom for AA women wasn't making headway, these people wouldn't feel compelled to try to create hostility between the various messengers.

You said, "But something else is going on here. These bw are smarter than this. I'm convinced that SOME AA women are just TIRED, and they're trying to commit suicide by eating themselves to death. Though some of them will deny it, they just don't care anymore. I can clearly see this because I don't pay attention to what people say; I watch what they do."-

I agree. People who actually value their lives make efforts to preserve their lives. This doesn't mean that these efforts will always succeed; or be constant. Struggle is an ongoing, dynamic process with highs and lows. But people who want to live will make the effort.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Enigma said...

Hmmm. I agree that black folks as a whole and black women in particular DO need to get in shape and take better care of themselves. But there are other things we need to consider in this convo.

If you met me, I would be one of those bbw's that some are discussing on this site. If asked a time ago I would have told you that I just liked to eat and this is who I am so get over it and if you can't to kick rocks. Just my two cents, but to me it is ALWAYS a deeper than food they can't just give up and I am surprised sometimes by other women for not understanding that it is usually an emotional issue.

I can tell you NOW without shame that I was molested as a child. I can tell you without shame that someone actively tried to tear down my self esteem by going after my sexuality and the fat was a way to protect me. The continuous lears that I endured from random men on the street for a body that I had NOTHING to do with - it is just my genetics - did not help at all. I gained weight to protect me from harm, to protect me from hurt, to PROTECT ME. I have a feeling - esp. as I read more about famous bw's abuse such as Monique and recently Queen Latifah that I am not the only one who tried this method to PROTECT themselves. When women gain weight they usually become invisible to the public or they are no longer seen as a person. That can be a blessing for someone who was abused by no fault of her own but because of how she looks. I KNOW that this was the cause for Mo and Queen gaining weight because these women since voicing/facing their abusive issues are losing weight & shaping up and speaking out about the abusive events. It is not in all cases because the bbw does not care for herself, or trying to commit a kind of suicide - not really. A lot of times they are trying to make themselves unattractive to keep themselves from being hurt, to PROTECT themselves. It may not be logical but it is what it is. They may not even know that is why they are overeating and packing on the pounds. For years I did not know that was why I was packing on the pounds. My recent honest look at myself and that childhood and recent experiences changed how I relate to food, and I am still working on it. I now exercise, I pray, and I keep food temptatios out of my home. I also keep access to those who intentionally hurt me to a minimum NOW. I had to face my past pain and reach for my current hopes and trust, it was NOT easy.

I hope that if any of you interact with a woman of size that is confident w/hers but struggles with the weight issue that you will firmly but kindly talk to her about her life so she can face her truth, regardless of how painful it is. Get this please - there may be a lot of abuse and pain behind that fat. Please do not jump to the conclusion so quickly that she does not care about herself, or she just gotta have that donut. TALK to her and know that it is gonna take some time for her to confide or to face the truth herself - IF there is some pain under the weight that she has not taken the time to acknowledge or examine. Admittedly for some it IS just about the food - they just want another donut. But for ME and quite a few other women there is something bigger going on and I kindly implore you to consider that as well.

anna (tertiary#anna) said...

@ Miriam,

My general rule of thumb is this:

We're all homo sapiens sapiens. There are few foods that show major changes among healthy people. Typically it may change at different points in the same person's life (lactose tolerance in children becoming intolerance in adults.) But people of different blood types, personalities and other factors live in the same environments, and so grew/ate similar foods. Remember, refrigerated shipping is a new development when compared to the age of mankind.

While the increase in height can be (in some cases) attributed to better nutrition, longevity has a lot of factors, not all the diet. For example, eradication of childhood diseases, germ theory, dental care, labor reforms and peacetime have made huge impacts.

Also, we have a basic genetic heritage that predisposes some to certain illnesses or longevity, regardless of their fitness efforts.

When it comes to the diet, there are some different requirements, but these tend to go along broad categories, and can be basically explained by: increased calories/nutrients for increased power consumption/expenditure. So a woman on her cycle may need to up her iron, because she's losing it with the blood loss, a teen might need more calcium because of her growing bones, and a pregnant woman might need more calories and nutrients for the fetus. But there's a basic input/output balance here.

It's rare that the diet has to incorporate a very specific food. Typically you see that in heritage diets when it was a food that people could easily grow in bulk (beans in the SW Americas, rice in east Asia, fish and whale in the Pacific NW.) But people live and thrive globally, which is an indication that our bodies are naturally adapted for a variety of foods.

As to meat: Fat and cholesterol are there because they're fundamental components of animal muscle cell membranes (google "lipid bilayer".) I eat meat and dairy, but in moderation, and try to source the meat from farmer's markets or certified organics. These places will tell you that the meat/dairy is hormone-free. I think the cost will enforce the moderation, lol.

Regarding pesticides: there are online resources that discuss which foods get the most pesticides, and when it's useful to buy organic (or that you should really wash the food.) But although it sounds gross, unless we're in the fetal stage we can accommodate some level of environmental pollution (or as a species we'd have died out long ago.)

This may be the only time I recommend these sources, but the USDA food pyramid is a good, basic source of info. It's devoid of the self-aggrandizement that makes me skeptical of pop-science books, they use reputable sources, they keep it simple and updated, and they explain what they're about.

Finally, if you're a bit unsure as to how to talk to your doctor, mention that to the intake nurse when you go for a checkup. This person may be a good source of advice for on-the-spot guidance on how to advocate for yourself. If not, talk to someone else.

Miss Pinky said...

Evia said:

"And Delish's blazing talent for satire was just savaged by the posse and their supporters. I've encouraged her to keep writing and hope she will continue it when she's done with other priorities."

_____________________________________

Delish & Evia were unfairly "lynched" over the MC short stories for sure. Not to stir old pots..but I'll share what I wrote about that from my old blog...(if it's ok with you Khadija)

I said back then:

"... I have to say, the Chronicles were never meant to demean anyone with a weight problem. It has always been my understanding that the Chronicles were meant to be a caricature of the behaviors that destroy the lives of some black women. For example, doing everything for everybody else except herself, never accepting help....essentially being a "mule" for the world. That is my honest belief of the intent behind them. The author can correct me if I'm wrong, but I remember the Chronicles started during a time when everyone was so sick and tired of hearing about black woman and child after another being murdered or raped and out of the author's mind came a way to cope with that. We were able to stop and laugh at the utter ridiculousness to keep from screaming. That is how the Chronicles were "born."

http://blackgirlsrockit.blogspot.com/2008/03/note-about-evia-halima-ladies-of-gen-ii.html

anna (tertiary#anna) said...

@ Miriam

What I mean (and got so wordy, I forgot to say) is - have confidence in yourself and your ability to advocate for yourself.


@ Evia

I think lot of AA are trying to buffer ourselves against the world, instead of dealing with the world. Not just w/food, but with the wrong men, or feeling too hopeless to find a mate, by saturation in a media culture that fails to uplift us, and by staying in unhealthy relationships and environments. I'm not sure how to make sure that a desire for self-protection doesn't result being buried alive under the rocks that we thought would protect us.

Delishmish said...

One (just one among many) of the things I LOVE about this blog (which I found through Evia, who was always talking about your brilliance. Come to find out, it is true. This is just a statement of fact. No more, no less.) is that I can feel your absolute civility (a lost art..or decaying at best) and honesty come though as surely as I would be sitting in front of you. This means one thing really. That your message is clear (and true..)

I want to be as brief as I can (and get to "the workout" AGAIN today) but I do want to thank you for your kind words. I love how you treat the commenters on your blog.....I really do...so may I commence by wishing YOU Khadija peace and MANY blessings...may you even begin to relish the taste of brussel sprouts...(because they are "good" for you...:-) )
And Evia knows how I feel about her. She is what I call a "stand up chica." (A compliment of the HIGHEST order)

A teacher said to me recently.. (I am ALWAYS taking classes because I always have room to learn and grow) "Delish"..."I am not worried about you".."Why is that," I said leaning forward, grinning, gloating and hoping for an A in the class (ruinous traits indeed. I am not perfect..lol) The teacher said, "because you listen, unlike some others in this class" ...."Hmmmm"..I thought as I leaned back, and took in what he said.
That is what I do here (and in the other blogs I read...very few) I listen...and I glean all of the information that can help me. So many people are so resistant to "listening" that they don't catch all the good information that is being shared for FREE...Some even come with a "smile" on their face,(pretending to listen) but their teeth are bared behind the computer screen. I hear (by listening) that baring too, by the way.

If you listen carefully. You will "hear" it all...and in this forum listening means reading and comprehending.

One excellent tidbit I have picked up this morning was the complement of the eastern and western medicine as the before and after..this is a really good appoach Khadija. You said it so clearly.

Let's try NOT to get to the "after" IF we can...I think our sister blogger TRACY is a great example of this (Hi Trace, xoxo, waving)

In closing (finally, said some..lol)..if I were to add anything of value here, it would be to say, "always be willing to buck the trend" as it were..Sometimes this means you may have to stand alone. It won't be for long (generally.)

Khadija,(LOVE that name)thank you again for allowing me to visit..... and listen.

roslynholcomb said...

What puzzles me, and continues to leave me bewildered is our failure to recognize that in many cases we're dealing with untreated mental disorders and symptoms of sexual abuse. Obesity, especially in young girls is so linked with sexual abuse that it's actually listed on the diagnosis check list.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. We seem to have a problem recognizing ANY type of mental disorder in black women. I remember absolutely losing it with a colleague who would totally overlook signs of black girls who self-mutilated. She was totally locked into the mindset of 'black girls don't do that.' Uh, yeah, they do. How many times can someone 'accidentally' burn themselves with a curling iron?

We are shocked and horrified when we see women struggling with anorexia. For the most part, we know that telling them to eat is ineffective. But when we deal with women who are overweight, we honestly think telling them not to eat or even worse, belittling and/or mocking them will actually be beneficial! Do we really think someone eats an entire box of Little Debbies because they LIKE snack cakes? Of course not. You're dealing with a binge eating disorder.

How do I know this? Because I've seen the impact that therapy and medication, especially SSRIs can have on these women. I used to call Welbutrin the 'wonder drug,' because it could literally change lives within a month. Serotonin levels get absolutely wonky and are greatly impacted when blood sugar levels are off. Insulin is a powerful hormone that more or less regulates every system in the body. When your serotonin levels are off you get depressed, leading to greater weight gain, more insulin issues and more depression. You have to get in their and MEDICALLY break that cycle before you can even begin to get through the cloud of depression that triggered the weight gain in the first place.

Many black women are products of multiple generations of untreated mental illness. Depression and bi-polar disorder even schizophrenia are shockingly common. Unless and until we begin to address the source, we can't even begin to talk about the weight. The weight is a symptom, it's NOT the disease.

So, when we talk to women about weight. When we talk to them about the impact that it can have on their health, we need to have a better grasp of their head space. More time than not, especially when you're dealing with the clinically obese, it's not about the food. As I used to say to my clients, it's easier to stuff your face than face your stuff. We need to address the psychological, emotional and sometimes physical pain that leads to the overeating. Everyone knows how to lose/maintain weight.

There's no Rosetta Stone there. What most don't know is how to deal with their emotional and psychological problems in a helpful nurturing environment. Most black women are not receiving that from the larger culture. If we don't offer it, they won't get it anywhere.

Tracy said...

Khadija, Evia and all of my blogging sisters:

(Deep bow of respect to all):

I couldn't have done this without the support and wisdom of all of you! No where else in the (printed) world have I found women who refuse to sit back and let the rest of the world label and discard them. You come in and go out kicking and shouting - I am proud to be among you!

Khadija, if I may, I would like to use an exerpt of yours to answer some comments that were made on my last post (thanks for the shout out!). My heart goes out to those that you mentioned that suffered needlessly; I have also witnessed friends and relatives eat or "pray" themselves to death.

And Evia, a few years ago those ladies at the Prayer breakfast included me. When I decided to lose weight, I offered lower fat choices (bran cereal, egg white omlets, god forbid - fresh fruit!). Not only did they go untouched ( I was called "uppity") but I was also excused from the kitchen!

I can also relate to the "eating herself to death" note. I cannot tell you the countless times I heard stories of BW ignoring the doctors advice and dying over a plate of pig feet! And these stories were told proudly - " I'mo die full and happy". smh!

So anyhoo, thank you to you all for your support and I am there for you also! If enough of us kick and scream and show the results of good eating and exercise, maybe we could start a new trend! lol!

Ooh and Delish! Please keep writing! I used to put her stories in our Church Bulletins just be funny - some folks are still waiting for the next chapters!

Peace and Blessing Sisters!

Khadija said...

Enigma & Roslyn,

I, and many other people, know that this goes deeper than the food itself. We know that there's often a lot of pain and abuse behind the obesity. I've mentioned this during this conversation. I also said the following in the first "Wildest Dreams" post:

"About weight gain to (psychologically) fend off sexual predators: I've heard this a LOT from various Black and Latina women, including a Latina secretary at work. They've said that being heavier somehow made them feel safer in their communities.

Apparently White women living in White communities do not have to "walk a gauntlet" of menacing leers everyday. The ultimate tragedy is that, in the end, the sexual predators win because women who do this are unwittingly digging their own graves with their forks.
-

Ladies, here's my concern with the "Y'all got to understand that this goes deeper than food, and is about mental, physical, sexual abuse, and other issues, etc."-

NO, NOBODY "has to" understand anything at all.

NOBODY cares.

NOBODY cares about the mental, physical or sexual abuse of AAW and girls.

NOBODY cares if AA women eat themselves into early graves.

NOBODY cares.

Furthermore, I've noticed that more than a few AA women (I'm NOT saying anybody here) use this as a conversation-stopping device. As a way to fend off any serious discussion about our general lack of self-care (which leads to early deaths). I've watched how these statements and testimonies have sometimes been used as thought-stopping and conversation-stopping devices.

Meanwhile, AA women are dropping like flies from obesity-related ailments.

Any woman who's waiting on others to "understand" what's going on behind the obesity before she takes care of this issue can find herself DEAD long before anybody else "understands."

The final tragedy is that using these statements and personal histories as shields from self-appraisal and self-correction gives the ultimate victory to the abuser. Basically, the woman who does this becomes the abuser's accomplice in finally murdering her.
Being alive with hurt feelings is preferable to being dead with one's feelings intact.

I'm saying that we can no longer afford to allow statements about the emotional issues underlying obesity to stop or slow down the discussion of what needs to be done and self-correction.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

roslynholcomb said...

I am in no way trying to stop the conversation. I know better than any that no one cares that black women eat themselves to death. But I thought, perhaps erroneously, that those of us who are in the business of empowering black women did in fact care, and were interested in addressing the issue in a way that is actually effective. Therapy works. SSRIs work. Just like any other eating disorder, and that's what we're dealing with here, if you're actually interested in what's effective you have to deal with the underlying issues.

It's not about the food. It's not about exercise. It's about emotional pain. Fine. If nobody cares, then why are we talking about it? And if we are actually about developing REAL solutions, then why is there a reluctance to address the core of the issue?

Far from trying to STOP a conversation I'm trying to START one. A conversation about the underlying issues that lead to obesity. We can diddle around the perimeter of the issue until the cows come home but they are totally ineffective unless we address the psychological and emotional issues that inform this issue.

I've treated women with eating disorders. I've treated women who self-mutilate. Many of those women were black and many of them had gone misdiagnosed for years. The road to recovery is a long difficult one, but it can be done.

Nobody is seeking a pity party here. What I want to have is a REAL CONVERSATION about black women and emotional/mental illness. Do we care, or not?

anna (tertiary#anna) said...

@ Rosalyn

We seem to have a problem recognizing ANY type of mental disorder in black women.

It's not because of any inherent intractability, but IMO speaks directly to the power differential between institutional and personal power.

A major reason why people are better able to see this in White communities than in AA is because of health care disparities. If you're going to the doctor and your concerns are taken seriously, then you're presenting yourself to the mainstream health care authorities as a member of a group with this illness. Your self-reporting has now become an identifiable trend, and can be directed to resources to help you.

Those two things are key: identification and direction, and they're done most effectively when the people doing the identification are the same that are providing the care.

But say you take your medical advice from your clergy or friends. These people aren't recognized authorities in the health care field, so your information remains anecdotal: it's not as effectively used to broadcast trends or to point the affected group to care. You expect your midwife to talk to other midwives about postpartum depression. But you don't expect your pastor to talk to other pastors about this.

So individual cases are not massed, and fail to leverage the power of an identifiable group.

The benefit of non-mainstream care is that, if done properly it can quickly address the needs of the home community. For example, since many AA go to salons, teaching beauticians about recognizing domestic violence and/or breast cancer and health resources allowed a vulnerable population to be identified AND paired to the proper resources.

But the con of non-mainstream sources is that they lack the recognized authority, and the machinery/power that widely-recognized authority can leverage to address the issue (so your beautician may have 400 customers, but the Komen Foundation's audience dwarfs that.)

I'm not offering it as an excuse, but just trying to explain that the lack of awareness comes from a lack of reporting, and this comes from a lack of exposure to the people who do the reporting. I feel like knowing about the machinery helps me understand how to make it work for me. So knowing that it's a widespread misconception and why that happens can help a person determine the appropriate strategy to attack the situation.

also @ Enigma
IMO, there are two things to consider: when speaking to yourself (or learning how to do so), it's dangerous to tell lies. That's the "self-correction" mentioned earlier. It takes strong language to make us strong. I always thought of this blog like the voice in my head that helps clear a mental fog.

But when we talk to others, we often use a different strategy. There's a difference between technical and tactical knowledge: the technical part is the incontrovertible truth of the issue. But our tactics change depending on our audience and goals. I'm a firm believer in "check the tactic against the goal." If it makes someone worse by directly addressing their weight, then you've failed to meet your goal of helping her. But there are other tactics to improve the situation besides calling people on the carpet.

anna (tertiary#anna) said...

@ Rosalyn

It's good to understand that we, as a community need to support our community. But again, the problem with individual responses is that they fail to get enough weight behind them to make significant change. This isn't meant to dissuade you, but to reinforce the idea that we can either make our own power structures or attempt to use preexisting ones for our own advances. I think it's easy for us to confuse sacrifice with immolation (I've made this mistake so much that I can barely explain it.)

There's a big danger with offering support, if it blurs the personal boundaries and coops the resources we need to save ourselves. I think we, as Black women, need to be sure we're not falling into the cultural trap of fixing our neighbor's roof by ripping off our own shingles.

This is where collective action can take the weight off of the individual, and hopefully be groomed for self-perpetuation. For example: there is a problem with health care disparities. But there are also a ton of AA pre-meds looking for experience and resume boosters. So perhaps one way to be supportive is to get these two groups in contact by contacting AA doctors and practices and making a health-issues drive (midafternoon eliminates the lunch cost, lol.) Done well, everyone wins.

Enigma said...

Hi Khadijah- (I sent this once, did not get a moderation message)

I agree with you. No one will care about the issues about black women health, only we can individually change our health issues.

What I am suggesting is that when folks talk to other bw about weight loss and self care, know that there may be a serious reason for their resistance to the fact that they *need* to lose weight for their lives and their health. It may be a little bit deeper than it initally looks - even if it is obvious that there is a need for her to take action. It may take longer for some bw to realize the seriousness of their health situation because of the abusive situation that they are attempting to STIIL unconciously avoid. I used myself as an example because I too resisted the truth about my weight and need for self care until recently. What I really intended to do with my remarks was to suggest that IF anyone decides to speak to a bw about her weight issues, be aware that abuse may be an underlying and serious issue with them that they must confront in order to face their current situation. Real sustainable weight loss starts with changing your mind first. That is why some women yo-yo w/ exercise and diet because they did not deal with this issue. I wanted to point out that if you experience resistance/attitude from a bw etc. that this may be a reason as to why she is avoiding the truth of what she DOES see in the mirror each day. I too resisted what I saw and made excuses for years why I would not get seroius about getting healthy.

I am sure that most of the ladies on here are aware of the fact that there are underlying emotional/mental reasons for weight gain. What I was trying to state and give myself as an example of - and clearly not well - was that if you discuss weight issues with a bw - do not be surprised if the underlying abuse issue, sadly, is her block. I did not intend to suggest that getting healthy and practicing self care is not important in spite of, I wanted to explain by using myself as an example why some women get stuck.

Khadija said...

Roslyn,

You said, "I am in no way trying to stop the conversation. I know better than any that no one cares that black women eat themselves to death. But I thought, perhaps erroneously, that those of us who are in the business of empowering black women did in fact care, and were interested in addressing the issue in a way that is actually effective. Therapy works. SSRIs work. Just like any other eating disorder, and that's what we're dealing with here, if you're actually interested in what's effective you have to deal with the underlying issues."-

I think we might be talking past each other. I also think that you're hearing a dichotomy where there is none. Whoever said, Let's exclude the need for professional counseling from the conversation"? I know that I never said anything like that. And I have acknowledged from the very beginning that there are emotional issues underlying all of this.

So, let me try to be more specific:

My issue with how these discussions usually play out is that so many AA women aren't doing either thing: they're NOT doing the outer work to combat obesity (exercise and nutrition) AND they're also NOT getting counseling for the underlying issues. They're NOT doing any of the things that work.

INSTEAD of doing any of the things that work (such as nutrition, exercise AND counseling for those who need it), so many AAW are waving the "I'm big and beautiful, d*mmit! I can be obese and healthy!" banner. That's what we see with AAW like Mo'Nique talkin' bout they only want to lose "a few more pounds" when she's STILL (morbidly) obese.

INSTEAD of doing the things that "work," they are aggressively waving the "weep for me" banner. And using this banner to attack anybody who even raises the issue of AAW and weight. They are using this banner to attack anybody who points out the things that ARE under their control. Such as exercise.

Those who are waving the "weep for me" banners have used these banners to shut down many conversations about AAW and weight. They have silenced many women from even raising the issue.

Khadija said...

Part 2

I have compassion; but I'm not going to be silenced. I don't think that remaining silent and/or editing out the self-correction angle to this issue would be helpful. And silence regarding self-correction is basically what the "banner wavers" want and now DEMAND from others.

I firmly believe that leaving out the self-correction angle (out of misguided compassion) is part of what enabled so many AAW to get to this point: The point where folks feel entitled to aggressively defend morbid obesity.

Pity Party = Death.

Misguided Compassion That Enables Pity Parties = Death For Multitudes of AAW.
-

For the moment, I haven't made a 2nd visit to Tracy's blog to see what comments she got in response to her essay regarding Mo'Nique's statement. [Because I want to continue this particular discussion without being unduly annoyed.]

But I won't be surprised if she was personally attacked for it. Eventually, I will go back to Tracy's blog to see if she drew "hit squad" sniper attacks for simply saying how she felt about Mo'Nique's attitude.

And let's take a moment to define "effective" and "REAL" solutions. I've noticed (as I'm sure that you've noticed among your past clients) that Black folks are very eager to turn any and every problem into a "syndrome" of some sort.

They do this to absolve themselves of any responsibility for their situation. Talking about their "syndrome" in the absence of them taking action is neither effective nor real.

The other mental pattern that our people have is that we LOVE to transfer discussions from things that are under our DIRECT, personal control (such as the choice to exercise or not) to vast, impersonal "systems" that are outside of our control.

I don't want to talk about systems much beyond the fact that they can't be trusted with our lives. I want to talk about the things that are under our personal, DIRECT control as individuals. Such as the choice to work on protecting our health. Or not. Such as the choice to seek counseling if we need it. Or not.

You can correct me if I'm mistaken, but as I said at the very beginning of this reply, I don't see any inherent contradiction between what you're saying and what I'm saying.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

roslynholcomb said...

I agree Khadija. I don't believe in pity parties either. In fact, I'm frequently told that I'm too direct and blunt. I believe in being compassionate, but I also believe in telling it like it is. If you've been sexually abused, or you're self-medicating with food, it's time and past time to see someone to address that issue. I will support you and give you all the assistance I can. But I don't have time for a bunch of navel-gazing and whining. I'm always about doing what works. And I'm quick to shut down any talk that pertains to things that you yourself can't control. If the tools are available to you, it's crucial that you use them.

This is a hot-button issue with me because I've encountered so many black women with undiagnosed mental illnesses that I want to be sure that we understand that what we're dealing with here is much, much bigger than steaming fish and Sweatin' to the Oldies. That's why so many people have gastric bypass only to gain the weight back. That's why we've had nearly thirty years now of watching Oprah lose and regain those same pounds. She talks a good game, but she hasn't done the work. And until she does, she'll never keep the weight off.

As I said on Tracy's blog I think Monique's situation is that her weight is a major part of her schtick. At this point it's more about money than in any way feeling fat-positive. It's been my observation that an overweight black woman has a greater chance of success in Hollywood than and overweight white woman. I think Monique is milking it for all it's worth.

Evia said...

I am sure that most of the ladies on here are aware of the fact that there are underlying emotional/mental reasons for weight gain.

I would REALLY hesitate to make that assumption whenever I see an overweight bw--that her weight is being driven by her "emotional/mental reasons" or that's it's somehow connected to sexual abuse or her sexuality in some way. Whew! That is VERY damaging. I would quickly wonder what else about her might be driven by those "emotional/mental reasons."

IMO, that's NOT something that bw should want to get into the mainstream of public discourse. When that "emotional/mental" stuff finally gets into the mainstream of the public's mindset about overweight bw, I can easily see how that could be used to discriminate against a lot of bw in all kinds of ways. That's a VERY negative label. For ex., if I really believed that's the reason for even half of bw's weight issues, I wouldn't want a bw like that teaching my children. I wouldn't know when or if her self-professed emotional/mental issues would jump out in the classroom while she's interacting with my child.

So what if it's simply NOT true about a particular bw? She might just love coconut chocolate chip cookies with butter pecan ice cream--LOL! like I do. She might not have these emotional mental issues at all.

I don't know about the rest of y'all but if I were overweight, I definitely would NOT want anyone thinking that I have emotional/mental reasons for my overweight.

I don't mean to sound uncaring, but we all have problems in life at some point. It just seems that some people think that their problems entitle them to a pity party. Well, what about mine? I've lost some people who I really, really loved. I may always be grieving my losses. Do I get a pity party for that? I don't talk about it because I KNOW that rain has fallen in everyone's life. I know that others don't have time or the desire to give me a pity party, and I wouldn't want one. Still, I wouldn't use the sadness about my losses as a reason to self-destruct.

The average person is not in the position to help anyone else. Most people are trying to put one foot ahead of the other in their own lives.

Now it's one thing to talk to your therapist about emotional and mental issues, but I guess I'd like to know whether this "emotional/mental reasons" flag is one that many overweight bw want to be waving in PUBLIC about themselves. Oprah could admit to her emotional/mental damage and she's fine because she's a billionaire, but can the typical bw afford to go around waving that flag?

But you've given me something to think about whenever I see an overweight bw. From now on, I'll be thinking of "emotional/mental reasons," which, IMO, is NOT good.

Khadija said...

Everyone:

Now that hopefully a few miscommunications have been cleared up, I can respond to the comments in order.

Again, for further clarification, I'll mention that I have read materials that discuss the role that emotional states play in metabolism. It's not a simple, purely calories in/calories spent equation. There are some other things that impact that equation. There IS a mind/body connection.

A recent book that talks about this in detail is called The Gabriel Method. The upshot of the book's message is that PERMANENT, sustained fat loss won't happen until the person deals with whatever underlying issues led to the lifestyle choices that caused the fat in the first place. You can read more about the author and his personal transformation from morbidly obese to his current (roughly 185 lbs.) state at http://www.gabrielmethod.com/

But this is not my point here. My point is how so many of AAW are aggressively defending obesity and refusing to even try to save their own lives. Meanwhile, we're dropping like flies.
_______________________

Pinky,

You said, "Delish & Evia were unfairly "lynched" over the MC short stories for sure. Not to stir old pots..but I'll share what I wrote about that from my old blog...(if it's ok with you Khadija)"-

I'M going back over some of these "old pots" because I'm concerned about the status quo that we've developed regarding obesity. This is similar to how "acting Black" became entrenched---Those of us who knew better allowed ourselves to be shouted down into silence.

The "banner wavers" have, for the most part, intimidated most women away from honest, COMPREHENSIVE discussions regarding AAW and obesity. Right now, it's okay to talk about anything and everything EXCEPT self-correction.

Well, I say "NO" to that sort of edited discussion. I'm NOT going to make it comfy and cozy for more AAW to dig their own graves with their forks and spoons.
_________________________

Delishmish,

Thank you so much for your kind words. I truly appreciate it. Especially, thank you for your "Brussels sprouts" prayer for me. I need it! LOL! I've always hated the cable "screamer" talk shows. That sort of discourse is so...barbaric...

Unfortunately, I see that AAs have normalize that sort of disrespectful, savage discourse. For example, I'm constantly amazed by how freely we curse at each other while trying to hold an online discussion.

I'm amazed at how freely supposedly educated, sophisticated Black males use profanity in general audience Black blogs. They know that women are present during these conversations. And they do it anyway. And some of the women (note that I didn't say "ladies") join in this undignified public behavior online. This even occurs on AA "Muslim" blogs. {shaking my head}
______________________

Tracy,

Thank you so much for your kind words. I truly appreciate it. And thank you for providing such a wonderful example! {raised fist salute}

You said, "Khadija, if I may, I would like to use an exerpt of yours to answer some comments that were made on my last post (thanks for the shout out!). My heart goes out to those that you mentioned that suffered needlessly; I have also witnessed friends and relatives eat or "pray" themselves to death."-

Yes, please feel free to use an excerpt to respond to the comments made to your last post. Tracy, I had a momentary twinge of kicking myself for giving your post the shout-out. It didn't occur to me until AFTER I made reference to it that I might have inadvertently sent a "banner waving" lynch mob to your blog.

I apologize for my carelessness. Considering how explosive this issue is, I probably should have checked with you before doing that. In my excitement about your excellent blog post, I didn't think of the potential negative repercussions until after the fact. I am truly sorry for any discomfort that I've inadvertently caused for you by doing so.

Khadija said...

Part 2

Enigma,

You said, "I did not intend to suggest that getting healthy and practicing self care is not important in spite of, I wanted to explain by using myself as an example why some women get stuck."-

Oh yes, I know that you never suggested that. In fact, nobody has said anything like that during this particular conversation. I'm just pointing out my concerns about some of the mental habits that have become entrenched among our people.

This pity party thing is a widespread mental habit among AAs that we use as a crutch for every issue that confronts us. I'm emphasizing that it doesn't work. Nobody cares about our various personal tragedies or our "sob stories." Nobody is going to respond to any of that.
________________________

Roslyn,

You said, "As I said on Tracy's blog I think Monique's situation is that her weight is a major part of her schtick. At this point it's more about money than in any way feeling fat-positive. It's been my observation that an overweight black woman has a greater chance of success in Hollywood than and overweight white woman. I think Monique is milking it for all it's worth."-

Yep. And she's also helping other AAW feel comfortable with committing suicide on the installment plan.
____________________

Evia,

You said, "Whew! That is VERY damaging. I would quickly wonder what else about her might be driven by those "emotional/mental reasons."

IMO, that's NOT something that bw should want to get into the mainstream of public discourse. When that "emotional/mental" stuff finally gets into the mainstream of the public's mindset about overweight bw, I can easily see how that could be used to discriminate against a lot of bw in all kinds of ways. That's a VERY negative label. For ex., if I really believed that's the reason for even half of bw's weight issues, I wouldn't want a bw like that teaching my children."
-

You've pointed out another danger about these pity parties: They are EXTREMELY stigmatizing. AAs are typically so caught up in looking for people to feel sorry for us that we're not paying attention to how people REALLY react to our pity parties.

Let me pursue your point for a minute. I know it's very hard for many of us to accept this, but let's review the realities of pity parties:

Nobody "owes" us anything, including compassion.

Nobody cares about AAW.

Since they don't care, they're NOT going to feel compassion in response to these self-stigmatizing pity parties.

Instead, many people feel increased contempt for those caught up in the pity party.

Other people are annoyed by the pity parties because they have their own tragedies that they are NOT whining about. They figure "If I have to 'suck it up' and keep moving, why should I be bothered with this other individual's whining?"-

Even those (few) people who are kind enough to feel compassion have other, additional reactions: concern about how unbalanced the pity partier might be; and a desire to be FAR AWAY from the potentially, extremely mentally ill pity partier.

The bottom line is that this "Weep for us overweight AAW. Weep for us because we're mostly suffering from emotional/physical/sexual abuse" banner is EXTREMELY stigmatizing. Folks think they're going to get sympathy in response to this. NO. All they're doing is CONFIRMING the bigoted assumption that we are mostly defective people!

Folks need to keep that particular banner on the "down low." It's not going to do anybody any good. All it does for some people is confirm that we need to be put in a quarantine zone. FAR away from any positions of responsibility. FAR away from anything that anybody else cares about.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Tracy said...

@ Evia

I would REALLY hesitate to make that assumption whenever I see an overweight bw--that her weight is being driven by her "emotional/mental reasons" or that's it's somehow connected to sexual abuse or her sexuality in some way. Whew! That is VERY damaging. I would quickly wonder what else about her might be driven by those "emotional/mental reasons."

Well, as an almost formerly overweight bw that has suffered from both sexual and mental abuse, I gotta ask you to agree to disagree. I have no solid numbers to give your since the welfare of BW's mental health isn't Google-worthy, but I would guess-timate that over half of overweight BW have been thru some form of abuse.

The attitude of 'I wouldn't want my business out in the street' or 'This was probably my fault, nobody cares anyway' is what keeps a good number of those cases from being reported. When I was young, abuse was for girls that were "fast" and if it happened, you deserved what you got. I, and several of my girlfriends (all overweight, except for one that was anorexic), grew up watching our preditors (sp) go on as if they had done nothing to us. Had families and normal lives while we killed ourselves with food trying to block out what they did to us.

Now, I am not having a pity party - therapy and a realization that I deserved to be happy too has helped me with my journey. But when I see a 250lb 12 year old (which by the way, in my opinion is child abuse), the red flags go up. It is hard to believe, but I can tell the difference between someone that is burying her pain of abuse in food and someone that just likes macaroons! Those are the yuckiest cookies by the way!!

As for how the world will think about BW - like Khadija said - they are gonna think negatively about bw no matter what. And of course, I wouldn't jump at someone in the street and yell "Hey fatty, were you sexually abused?".

But I feel that if we take the stigma and shame away from the experience of being a victim, you will start to hear more stories of abuse/overweight connection.

Much respect....

Oh and Khadija, everyone was great, I was expecting to get blasted too - times must be changing...

Peace

Tracy said...

Ok sorry - I had a chance to think about the statements that Evia made about overweight bw /abuse/and the new stigma it may cause. Read all first then comment, Tracy!!

Yes I can see where some misguided folks would attach an "oh she's fat so she is mentally unbalanced" label to some bw and in some cases (hiring, promotions etc) that would effect the quality of life for some Bw that just like cookies...

But, as I had said before, that is pretty much already in place, with any overweight person. I still believe that this was the reason that I was laid off from my job in January - the expendable fat workhorse. The answer is still to let go of the past and the fat and finally live!

OK getting late, gotta go running!! ;)

Siditty said...

But I thought, perhaps erroneously, that those of us who are in the business of empowering black women did in fact care, and were interested in addressing the issue in a way that is actually effective. Therapy works. SSRIs work. Just like any other eating disorder, and that's what we're dealing with here, if you're actually interested in what's effective you have to deal with the underlying issues.

I totally agree. Being someone who has struggled with weight and at times had issues with food, I can say that if you don't resolve the underlying issue that is causing emotional eating, you only do a disservice to yourself, and if you do manage to lose weight, more than likely you will gain it back. Having a eating disorder or addiction is like being an alcoholic, you have to learn what your triggers are and how to avoid them. We also need to realize as a black community therapy isn't a "white people" thing. That it isn't an admission of failure, but a tool to help us cope with the many issues facing us.

Making fun of people for their size and chastising them will not make things better. The reason the Mammy Chronicles are insulting to me is the fact, no matter how you sugar coated it, the point was to make fun of a big woman, not address the issues that made her big, not to address the health issues that came along with all her eating, but to rather focus on her girth, how heavy she breathed, and how much she ate.

I know I am anti-black woman for saying such things, and am all things wrong with the black community and black women in your eyes. But I found it absolutely disgusting that people would do something so insensitive and them call it "humor". It was as humorous as Eddie Murphy in Norbit. It lacked compassion in my eyes, and in others.

No "posse" tried to shut up anyone. We disagreed with you, were banned from commenting on your topics, were called "b*tch" by people supposedly concerned about black women, while others sat silent and watched, all because we disagreed with your approach.

As someone who has been sexually abused as a child and works with children on a day to day basis, I find it completely insulting that anyone would fear what I would do to their kids. I on a first hand level know the effects of harming children and would never do anything to perpetuate my emotional and mental issues on the children I work with. One thing I have learned is that the amount of people in this world who have been sexually abused as children is many, and we work right beside you every single day and you can't tell the difference. I don't share my past with the children I work with, and most people who know me don't think of me as a "sexual abuse victim" out to mentally scar children. You can't label us, and you don't know who we are, and most of us are good people who have learned to cope with our issues and not to project them on to other people.

Yes everyone has problems in their lives, but not everyone is having a pity party, but rather they might be coping or struggling with something in a non conventional way, like eating too much, or too little, or throwing up meals. It is all about compassion and not judging people because they don't fit into your standards that you set for yourself. We don't all have the same struggles, and we don't all cope with them in the same way that others do.

Khadija said...

Tracy,

You said, "Oh and Khadija, everyone was great, I was expecting to get blasted too - times must be changing..."-

Thank goodness!

You said, "But I feel that if we take the stigma and shame away from the experience of being a victim, you will start to hear more stories of abuse/overweight connection."-

Hmmm...Let me try to say this as delicately as possible. These sorts of things will ALWAYS be a stigma in the eyes of the outer world. No matter how much we "normalize" it among ourselves by taking "the stigma and shame away from the experience of being a victim."

I worry when we try to translate "therapy talk" into the real world. It does NOT translate. Not at all. (I'm NOT saying that this is what you're doing, or what you meant by your comment.)

"Therapy talk" needs to stay within therapy and/or only among the closest of friends. It is NOT appropriate for the outer world. It has negative consequences attached to it in the outer world.

I've seen folks mess themselves up by transferring "therapy talk" to the outer world. I've seen this a lot with substance-addicted clients. Let me repeat what I tell them:

"12 step meeting/therapy/recovery type of talk does NOT work well in the real world. It only 'works' among other recovering people.

Healthy people are TURNED OFF by 12 step meeting/therapy/recovery talk. They react badly to it. It makes them want to get far away from whoever is talking the recovery talk. Most healthy people feel that:

Recovery talk = dope fiend.

Recovery talk = alcoholic.

Recovery talk = extremely mentally ill person.

Recovery talk = DANGER.

Recovery talk = DANGEROUS PERSON who is a TICKING BOMB in the workplace, the business, the school, the position of responsibility, etc.

Safety = getting far away from the 'recovery talk' person.

Safety = getting rid of the 'recovery talk' person.

Bottom line---Save the 'recovery talk' for other recovering people."
-

I'm not talking about what's fair or correct. I'm talking about what's real. The reality is that "recovery talk" of any kind (and for any reason) is a huge, EXTRA, unnecessary stigma. One that we can't afford to have publicly attached to us as AAW.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

Siddity,

I'm not quite sure to whom your comment was addressed, but I'll respond to a few points you raised.

You said, "Having a eating disorder or addiction is like being an alcoholic, you have to learn what your triggers are and how to avoid them."-

It's good that you made this analogy first. I didn't want to be the first one to point it out. I believe that there are similarities between the two situations.

Now that we're clear about the similarities between eating disorders and addictions, let me address my reactions to "The Mammy Chronicles:"-

As I've said before, I don't like the "mammy" terminology. It smacks of the slave plantation. I respectfully (and without rancor) agree to disagree with those who use this term. However, that angle isn't the focus of this conversation.

To continue the addiction analogy that you acknowleged in your comment: Nobody is under any obligation to give favorable or flattering portrayals to drug addicts/alcoholics in fiction. Likewise, there is also NO obligation to give favorable or flattering portrayals to people with eating disorders in fiction.

In terms of activism, I would think that the FIRST priority of such fiction would be to portray the horrors of such conditions. NOT to make these conditions sound tolerable, acceptable, or sympathetic. They're not. They're life-damaging. In fact, these conditions are DEADLY.

Using your argument, compassionate, caring writers would have an ethical obligation to portray drug addicts and alcoholics in a sympathetic light. In general, do we give a lot of consideration to the tender feelings of addicts when talking about addiction? Nope.

Do others allow drug addicts to determine the "proper" manner and scope of discussions regarding drug addiction? Nope. This includes people who are sincerely trying to help the drug addict with their addiction. It would be totally irresponsible to allow a drug addict to determine the "proper" parameters of how addiction should be discussed or portrayed.

So if we aren't trying to be flattering or favorable in our descriptions of addiction (out of consideration for the addicts' feelings and sensibilities), why should we do that in terms of eating disorders? BOTH conditions KILL.

Not to mention that isn't truthful, unflinching acknowlegement of the horrors of addiction one of the 12 steps in these 12 step programs? In fact, isn't acknowledging that _________ condition is a DISASTER the very 1st step?

Isn't pointing out the horrors of these conditions part of any intervention?

The damage that an addict is doing to herself FAR outweighs any considerations of the addict having their feelings hurt by a discussion about addiction.

Respectfully, I believe the same principle applies to those suffering from eating disorders.

In terms of the real world stigma attached to publicly attaching the label of "I survived emotional, physical, sexual abuse, etc." to oneself, I addressed that in my earlier comment about the negative consequences of transferring "therapy talk" to the outer world.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Siditty said...


In terms of activism, I would think that the FIRST priority of such fiction would be to portray the horrors of such conditions. NOT to make these conditions sound tolerable, acceptable, or sympathetic. They're not. They're life-damaging. In fact, these conditions are DEADLY.


No one is trying to make the conditions sound intolerable or acceptable, but I am trying to get people to see the humanity of the people with these conditions. We can do it with alcoholics, why can't we with overweight people? To make fun of folks to me lacks compassion and humanity.

Using your argument, compassionate, caring writers would have an ethical obligation to portray drug addicts and alcoholics in a sympathetic light. In general, do we give a lot of consideration to the tender feelings of addicts when talking about addiction? Nope.


I strongly disagree. There are always stories of people who struggle with addiction and we are sympathetic to their plight. Infamously "A Million Little Pieces" before it was exposed as a fraud was embraced and thought to be poignant and a true insight to addiction. No one called James Frey a junkie or made jokes about his battle with drugs. Or Junky by William S. Buroughs, and there are numerous examples of people putting a human face to the issue and looking at the seriousness of the addiction.

Do others allow drug addicts to determine the "proper" manner and scope of discussions regarding drug addiction? Nope. T

I strongly disagree. If you have ever seen a treatment program, they will tell you over and over again, it is all up to the addict, not the program. The addict has all the power, and they have the power to determine they are ready, and never have I seen treatment facilities where they make fun of the addiction all in the name of humor.

In terms of the real world stigma attached to publicly attaching the label of "I survived emotional, physical, sexual abuse, etc." to oneself, I addressed that in my earlier comment about the negative consequences of transferring "therapy talk" to the outer world.

When the outer world is under the impression that someone who has these issues are a threat to their kids, I think therapy talk is important so they are completely aware of their misconceptions and why they for the most part are completely false.

Aphrodite said...

Hello Khadija,


I was intending to comment earlier and wow... this conversation is really racking up comments.


Lets see. Personally I made some diet changes after my mom had her heart attack. No salt or sugar. She lost weight and ended up being taken off her insulin and now takes only a half a pill of glucophage (low dosage) and they are considering taking her off that. She has whittled her blood pressure meds down to one, but she still has to take the one for her heart issues and this is down from 17 medicines.

She has lost weight and is still losing although I still worry about her balance etc..

Well, my eating what she eats didn't work for me. I mean I prepare all meals and we were eating the same thing.


So I went super radical. Especially after that comment about the BM personal trainer who makes fun of BW instead of helping them.


I eliminated all sugar not just sweets or sodas, but no sauces, no condiments, no seasonings (stuff like garlic salt can have hidden sugar), but I do allow myself some salt and pepper. I stopped eating all starches. I used to allow myself wheat bread, but no breads, no pasta and I even cut out some fruits and vegetables bc of the starch content. The last thing I cut out was fat. No high fat meats, no milk, nothing.


I eat only negative calorie vegetables, which is a small list, I use stevia exclusively to sweeten things, only white fish like tilapia, or crab or shrimp, lean chicken sometimes with salt, pepper, garlic and onions. I drink two liters of water a day and I have been drinking a lot of Yerba Mate. So far I have lost 30 pounds.

This has been difficult not just in terms of withdrawls, but in terms of finding the right foods because even low calorie/no calorie- low carbohydrate foods have so much extra crap in them. Either it 7 calories and 100g of carbs or 50 calories and 22g of fat etc...


I have gotten clever at trying to make things look/taste like other things and I can buy all my groceries for the week at under 20.00.

I am not advocating this for anyone and I know it sounds extreme, but I think I may have some actual physiological issues (outside of the emotional) that may contribute to weight gain for me.


My plan is to slowly re-introduce different foods (starches, sugars, fat) into my diet to see how I respond to them and find out what my tolerance level is.


I haven't added the exercise back in yet. I used to really like dance, but I need to do something bc I look like a plastic doll somebody laid on a radiator.

Khadija said...

Siditty,

You said, "No one is trying to make the conditions sound intolerable or acceptable, but I am trying to get people to see the humanity of the people with these conditions."-

But many folks ARE trying to make obesity sound tolerable and acceptable. That's the whole point of the "I'm big and beautiful, d*mmit! I can be obese and healthy!" banner. That's what we see with AAW like Mo'Nique saying they only want to lose "a few more pounds" when she's STILL (morbidly) obese.

For those who are waving these banners, ANY non-flattering description of obesity and its related problems equals not seeing the humanity of those who are afflicted.

You said, "I strongly disagree. If you have ever seen a treatment program, they will tell you over and over again, it is all up to the addict, not the program. The addict has all the power, and they have the power to determine they are ready, and never have I seen treatment facilities where they make fun of the addiction all in the name of humor."-

We agree to disagree. Yes, it is up to the addict ot participate or not in the program. However, the addict does NOT get to define addiction for the program. The addict does not get to define impaired functioning for the program. The addict does not get to dictate the terms of the discussion format at the program. Nor does the addict get to set policy for the program.

The program is the program. The addict either works the program or they don't work the program. The addict does not get to rearrange the program to their liking.

Additionally, anyone who has had repeated exposure to large numbers of addicts will notice several patterns. One of which is that they invariably DENY and MINIMIZE their addiction. They deny and minimize the negative effects their addiction has had on their lives. They deny that their addiction is jeopardizing their lives.

The addicts say that they're okay just as they are. They also do a lot of self-pity and excuse-making. Just like many "banner wavers" are doing regarding obesity.

Other people are not obligated to buy into any of this stuff. Certainly not on the terms dictated by the addict or person suffering from an eating disorder. Both of these conditions are extremely harmful; in fact, they kill. These conditions are killing AAW by the multitudes.

I have no interest in making it more comfy and cozy for AAW to pursue their various life-threatening addictions. Which is the logical end result of entertaining all this "I'm big and beautiful, d*mmit! I can be obese and healthy!" type of talk.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Aphrodite said...

@ Tam- good for you! I wish you well!


@Southland Diva- May you have a speedy and uneventful recovery.


@Delish
"I was recently in a certain famous (infamous) town recently...and the thing that I always remember about this particular "city" is that there are NO fast food joints there...not one...yet, when a certain well known donut franchise (now in spectacular trouble) came to town many moons ago, they "decided" to locate their artery clogging enterprise right in the heart of the BLACK neighborhood...and when the "red, I mean blue lights" came on to signify their hot, high fructose "goodies" were ready to clog and fatten, hordes of black and brown people (and a multitiude of cops) lined up to fill their gullets with these delicious/deadly tiny "treats."...and still, not one fast food joint in the other neigborhood, merely a few miles away...I'm just saying!."




I noticed this when I lived in Sausalito. Everything was organic, hormone free, gourmet etc.. There were places to eat, but fast food was nowhere to be found anywhere.



"which give you the smallest, tiniest, lowest caloric foods with a price that is the opposite of the food"


The portions were adequate- not supersized, but the food was so good. I think it turned me into a food and wine snob - a foodie- just a little bit. But you did pay for it - and pay well. No offense taken about the sushi comment. I am a rabid sushi lover. :)



@ Lorraine - congratulations on you commitment!

Aphrodite said...

@ Khadija
"We ALL have our own challenges."

Thank you for sharing and for being so honest and so wise. I love how you are stressing that you are being proactive with your health and even the stressors that you had to deal with at work.



@ Tracy- congratulations on your weight loss and improved health.



@ Delish "I was in a well known " whole health food" store the other day, and the checker(a BW) said something to me about "us BW" having to keep our "booty""


I thought most BW who have booty - have it regardless-and it had nothing to do with junk food, but genetics. Has she not looked at pics of BW from the 70's, 80's or early 90's even- they were thin, but the booty was still there.

Delishmish said...

Part 1:

Khadija...may I ask you to allow me to address Siditty? I graciously thank you in advance if you should so allow me.

Generally in life, I am willing to walk away. I don't feel as though I MUST have the last word at all times UNLESS someone has misunderstood me (or I have been unclear in my communications)...whether deliberately or not. In such a situation I will ATTEMPT to explain myself more thoroughly...

with that.....

Siditty said:

Making fun of people for their size and chastising them will not make things better. The reason the Mammy Chronicles are insulting to me is the fact, no matter how you sugar coated it, the point was to make fun of a big woman, not address the issues that made her big, not to address the health issues that came along with all her eating, but to rather focus on her girth, how heavy she breathed, and how much she ate.

I know I am anti-black woman for saying such things, and am all things wrong with the black community and black women in your eyes. But I found it absolutely disgusting that people would do something so insensitive and them call it "humor". It was as humorous as Eddie Murphy in Norbit. It lacked compassion in my eyes, and in others.

No "posse" tried to shut up anyone. We disagreed with you, were banned from commenting on your topics, were called "b*tch" by people supposedly concerned about black women, while others sat silent and watched, all because we disagreed with your approach.
......................

May I suggest Ma'am (said with only respect intended) that you go back and re-read the Chronicles IF you can find it, because certainly, I am not going to make it available for you to dissect....and I already KNOW that you won't make any effort to re-read it...oh well!
(Many of you have let me know exactly what you think of it...thankfully few people have my email or it would have surely crashed with the multitude of venom that poured out of the woodwork.. such inflamed passion is to be commended...why not use it for a REAL purpose? Perhaps against the Dunbar Village animals? Oh wait, not even animals do such acts.

Once again, I NEVER said anything about the WEIGHT of the main character...that was OTHERS putting their projections onto the character as it were. What I was highlighting was a combination of silly behaviours that a great many BW seem entrenched in...and yes, it is true that "ridiculous" (Gristle stew, porkfat lard biscuits???)food was the center of her life, not to mention the church with the married preacher siphoning all he could from the mostly single BW congregation and the women all fighting for the one available man (ole snaggle tooth "Vernon") because the preacher reminded them he was single. The main character and her best (and single) friend "Sister Same" hate their neighbor because she refuses to join them (she is always running...a metaphor) in this sorrowful journey they have undertaken on their own.....AND WHY???? I challenge you to show me WHERE in this story I am "making fun" of a FAT person...Seriously Siditty ...SHOW ME where. It was/is supposed to be an amusing SATIRICAL story. I really don't care that you did not see it that way. I may not be a published author per se..but I guarantee my story would sell many more copies than some tame, lame politically correct BORING "love story."

And if the main character had problems breathing...well guess what?...a lot of BW are SUFFOCATING RIGHT NOW as I write this....both literally and figuratively.

Delishmish said...

Part Deux:
I can only imagine how you (in a general sense) deluged Evia with tons of hate e-mail...and yes, there WAS /IS a "posse" who tried to shut her up....that she (Evia) had the temerity to showcase my little ditty on the front page of her blog...Guess what?..she has a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to express her "speech" (in multifaceted ways) through her blog..and you have the Constitutional RIGHT to look away...the only way you could see this story is if you typed in HER web address and went there...so if you disagree so vehemently, why "go there"....

I already KNOW this comment will fall on MANY deaf ears...

I doubt I can convince you of anything, but neither is it necessary. I have tried to maintain a respectful tone to you BECAUSE of Khadija..and Evia too quite frankly...they are two incredibly civil and smart ladies..

One more thing....I really have no idea WHAT you are talking about with this whole anti-black woman thing..and I would NEVER and have NEVER called another BW blogger a B----.....That is highly distasteful to me. Not only would I not do that, but I would not do that even if I believed it to be true...which is certainly the opposite of some of the comments I have read about me. Apparently, not only am I like a mound of something, but so is my story...lol

The truth is...no one can restrain me, because I am a free woman and luckily I live in a country that believes in the "marketplace of ideas and thought."

I can write what I want and you can NOT read it...and by the way..I HARDLY think my story rises to the level of Norbit. Now THAT is insulting.

In closing I bring you this excerpt if I may, courtesy of the wonderful wiki:

Satire is often strictly defined as a literary genre or form; although, in practice, it is also found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, human or individual vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings are held up to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, or other methods, ideally with the intent to bring about improvement.[1] Although satire is usually meant to be funny, the purpose of satire is not primarily humour in itself so much as an attack on something of which the author strongly disapproves, using the weapon of wit.

...............

I now reach my hand out to you and offer a handshake...it's okay to have a difference of opinion on this.

I wish you well.

I mean that.

Thank you Khadija for facilitating this "conversation."

Tracy said...

Hey there!

Ok, I'm confused....as far as the main subject of the bw/overweight connection, are we talking about generalizing abuse/overweight?

Or are we talking about bringing the abuse to the forefront and when/where that is appropriate?

Now I agree with you on the therapy speak - if you are talking about folks that come out with it out of the blue. Yes there are some things that are better left to your close friends and the folks you pay.

But divulging a little of what made me turn from an almost 300lb woman to an almost "normal" size person - in blogging form, and in a comments forum - I was hoping to reach someone that was at that "I'm almost ready, but one more twinkie" stage to just effing do it! Yeah, you're life was rough, but no rougher than mine, so let it all go and get rid of the excuses and the weight.

I've lived almost my whole life as a big woman - believe me, you don't have to say a word to the Normals - they already think the worst of you before you've said hello. Now this doesnt apply to the drug addicts and the other addictions people have that are not as obvious - they are almost more acceptable. At least their addiction kept them thin. But fat folks are doomed from the getgo...

But that is the best reason to lose the weight - change what you can and level the playing field instead of holding on to the fat like some boy scout merit badge. Life is a lot easier and enjoyable now.

So anyway, that was what I meant by my statements. I wish that I had access to the information that is at my fingertips now. I can't get back the years I lost, and I damn sure am too busy having fun to look back, but I would like to catch that young woman or any woman that has gone thru a similar situation and give them the smack they need to moooove on!!

Peace ! I'm going to bed! ;)

Aphrodite said...

RE: Obesity, sexual abuse, street harassment & stigma


I will have to think more about the stigma aspect to this. It is hard for me to understand how saying that something was done to you- says something about you as a person.


I will say that I do think that it is wise whether obesity related or otherwise for sexual abuse and rape survivors to be very careful who they disclose to for other reasons.

I know that Khadija has focused on how others may want to get away from survivors, but I think that disclosure can draw in predators and opportunists who are more than willing to exploit or revictimize survivors as adults.

Even "healers" can pump you for info and groom you for further abuse depending on how vulnerable you are.

Khadija said...

Delishmish,

Because I let your comment through about "The Mammy Chronicles," I'll let Siddity have a comment to reply to your comment addressed to her. She is free to respond. She is free to refrain from addressing you specifically, and to continue (if she wishes) to address the other related issues.

Whether or not Siddity chooses to reply to your "Mammy Chronicles" comment, it was the LAST one that I'll publish that is specifically about "The Mammy Chronicles." I don't want this thread to become devoted to the Mammy Chronicles.
_________________________

Siddity,

As I said above, you're free to reply to Delishmish's comment addressed to you. You're free to refrain from replying. If you choose to reply, I'll only publish ONE comment from you that is specifically about the Mammy Chronicles. As I said, I don't want this thread to become devoted to the Mammy Chronicles.

Whatever you choose to do (including nothing if that is your wish) regarding Delishmish's comment addressed to you regarding the MC, please know that you are more than welcome to continue to participate in this discussion (or any other conversation on this blog), if that is your desire.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

Aphrodite,

Thank you for your kind words. I truly appreciate it. I keep warning y'all that I'm NOT particularly "wise." Smart, yes. Observant, yes. "Wise"? Not so much. I've got my own issues. I'm just passing along what I've learned along the way. LOL.

You said, "I will have to think more about the stigma aspect to this. It is hard for me to understand how saying that something was done to you- says something about you as a person."-

Generally, people don't want to be around people with problems related to serious, unsavory issues. That's how this is perceived by the outer world. We keep assumiing that people are going to sympathize with us. They're NOT.

Their first priority is to make sure they, their loved ones, and their interests are safe. In their minds, a person with a serious, unsavory problem in their background = potential ticking bomb. Why have a potential ticking bomb around? Having such persons around is perceived as an unnecessary risk. Many AAs don't understand that other people are NOT devoted to "helping us out." They're trying to make their own way, and protect their own interests.
______________________

Tracy,

In terms of the individual blog context, I'm not necessarily saying that bloggers shouldn't talk about it. I'm saying that there's a stigma attached to these sorts of issues. I'm also saying that employers (potential and otherwise) routinely "google" folks. There can be blowback from what one reveals on one's blog. If one is prepared to assume the risk of employer blowback, okay.

In terms of AAW's general image, I believe that it would be a DISASTER to publicly spread the idea that large percentages of AAW are overweight in part because of abuse/trauma issues. We're already "marked" in so many negative ways. As baby mamas, welfare queens and AIDs carriers.

Part of how we got "marked" was because AAs are foolish enough to make ourselves the public face of these issues. We marked ourselves, and then we have the nerve to complain about being stereotyped as welfare queens, etc. For example, others who are on welfare have the sense NOT to readily get on camera talking about how they're on welfare.

Why in the world would we heap an EXTRA negative label on ourselves? Given how common overweight/obesity is among us, do folks realize that pushing this connection ("fat because sexually/emotionally/physically abused") into the mainstream would stigmatize the MAJORITY of us?

Generally, people don't want to be around people with serious and sordid problems. And that's how the outer world perceives this sort of thing. No amount of wishing or attempts at normalizing this will EVER make this normal and "okay" to the outer world. All it will do is add yet another unsavory stigma to our collective image.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Delishmish said...

"Diving" back into the ORIGINAL conversation..but with a nod of thanks and a wave to the blog owner Khadija....:-)

So.... we are discussing in general terms matters of health, but I don't think anyone has yet mentioned ORAL health..I think as time goes by we are going to see how important this is...already links have been found between heart disease and gingivitis or periodontal disease..that is quite frightening..but it makes me really brush my teeth with more vim and vigor.

My dentist advised me rather strongly to get a device that propels water rapidly between teeth and at your gums..we all know the name of this device..why should we give them (the company) free advertising?..undoubtedly thousands read this blog....anyway I do like this device, and I try to use it everyday...so while we are all discussing ways to enhance our health and well being..do remember that proper and constant oral hygiene is actually MORE important than we may have thought in the past.

And with that tidbit..my day of blogging on this topic will come to a close....lest anyone think I am a psycho who stays up all night blogging and answering stuff...lol...far from it ..in fact, it is still fairly early where I am temporarily. I am as far west as you can go (perhaps even having to cross an ocean) and still be in the US of A....such a big country...so many minds and thoughts..

And so... I bid you goodnight dear friends, foes and who knows.. by the time you read this, it will undoubtedly be morning, a new day a'dawning ..and I shall probably be, regretting my midnight poetry.

Malacyne said...

I like this article and it needs to be shouted from the heavens to black women!

Americans across the board have a growing problem with obesity and it's hit black folks even harder. Almost every black person in the US knows someone in their family that suffers from hypertension, high cholesterol or diabetes.

I think health and fitness is a cultural issue for black people, especially women. Let's face it, most of our exposure to exercise comes from playing sports in our youth. Not too many black girls participate in youth sports. This is an important foundation for healthy living. Black women are now trying to play 'catch up' and undo years of inactivity and unhealthy lifestyles. It's a hard road that can be done.

What is reflected back to me when I talk about my workout plan is a cultural apathy. It concerns me greatly that black culture accepts pathological obesity to the degree of denial until it's too late. Soul food is good...my guilty pleasure is my grammy's fried catfish and mac and cheese! I still can't walk away from it but I do it in moderation.

Thanks for the article and remind women that they should exercise and be fit for themselves first.

Evia said...

I also have NEVER called any bw a b$%ch. I have NEVER done this verbally nor in writing, online or offline.

@Tracy re:

"Yeah, you're life was rough, but no rougher than mine, so let it all go and get rid of the excuses and the weight.

Tracy, I hope I'm interpreting you correctly. I've always supported your message and promoted your site for a long while on my blog because fat KILLS. I especially agree with certain parts of your message, particularly this part where you're, in essence, telling women that "life is not easy" for anyone.

Re this:

"I've lived almost my whole life as a big woman - believe me, you don't have to say a word to the Normals - they already think the worst of you before you've said hello."

I know it may be tough for you to realize this, but SOME of the so-called "Normals" do not think much at all about your weight when they see you. I know that I do NOT think the worst of any overweight woman from any group. As a matter of fact, I don't think about her at all--unless she does something in particular to draw attention to herself--like Mo'Nique. I know it's hard for us to accept, but, in general, most people don't think much about other people AT ALL. LOL! They DON"T CARE. Most people are heavily involved with their own lives, their own pain. That's about all they can handle.

However, if it is true that overweight women have "mental/emotional problems," as is being presented/argued here, I will most definitely begin to notice overweight bw even more. LOTS of people have some degree of emotional baggage from their childhoods or whatever, but they don't ***willingly*** attach a negative label to themselves. As a person who has worked with emotionally disturbed children, for ex., MOST of their parents were willing to fight tooth and nail and some even went to court to get that label off their child, so I'm shocked that SOME (because I just can't believe that ALL or even most would want this) overweight bw would want an "emotionally/mentally defective" label attached to themselves.

@ Khadija re:

"In terms of AAW's general image, I believe that it would be a DISASTER to publicly spread the idea that large percentages of AAW are overweight in part because of abuse/trauma issues. We're already "marked" in so many negative ways. As baby mamas, welfare queens and AIDs carriers.

Part of how we got "marked" was because AAs are foolish enough to make ourselves the public face of these issues. We marked ourselves, and then we have the nerve to complain about being stereotyped as welfare queens, etc. For example, others who are on welfare have the sense NOT to readily get on camera talking about how they're on welfare."



Exactly! I think this pity party stuff started when some black folks (poverty pimps types) started trying to make de evil wm feel sorry for all of us po' black folks, in order to get a big fat check from the gubment. I talked to some of my relatives recently about this pity party stuff that so many AAs in general are always engaged in these days. My relatives said that black folks used to have tremendous pride. They didn't want ANYONE feeling sorry for them or pitying them. I'm the same way. I'm a proud AA woman. I can do just about anything that just about any other woman can do. So I certainly don't want anybody feeling pity for me because as you pointed out: pity invites contempt.

Khadija said...

Malacyne,

Thank you for your kind words about the post. I truly appreciate it. For me, it's fried chicken and macaroni and cheese that are the reasons why I would never be willing to go vegetarian. There's no way I'm going to give that up forever. LOL!
___________________

Evia,

This issue, like so many others, points out the distorted thinking that has become standard operating procedure among AAs.

First, there's the peculiar, yet widespread narcissism involved in assuming that people are thinking about one at all.-

I also hear this sort of talk from Black underclass clients ("They're looking down on me..."). They can't get it through their heads that nobody cares enough about them to "look down on them." That nobody's even thinking about them at all until they (negatively) bring themselves to other people's attention. As you noted, the vast majority of people are preoccupied with their own lives and issues.

Second, there's the peculiar, yet widespread notion that other people somehow "owe" us something (help, sympathy, compassion, etc.). Ummm...NO.

Third, there's the peculiar, yet widespread notion that other people are going to feel sympathy for us if we publicly proclaim our dysfunctions and the sources of our dysfunctions. Ummm...NO.

And frankly, this mindset pre-dates the "poverty pimps." It stems from our main sacred cow, Dr. King and the civil rights marchers. This mindset is a negative, unintended consequence of Dr. King's strategies. There was no dignity or self-respect involved in sitting in, begging in, and crying in. Dr. King's strategy depended upon generating pitiful images of AAs in order to "prick the conscience" of "White folks of good will."

As you noted, our people traditionally had a strong aversion to begging, and accepting any sort of "charity." [I can still hear the scorn in my older relatives' voices when they mention the idea of "accepting chair-i-tee"---the word is drawn out and said with a slight sneer.]

Dr. King inadvertently broke down AAs' previous strong cultural resistance to looking pitiful in public.

You said, "As a person who has worked with emotionally disturbed children, for ex., MOST of their parents were willing to fight tooth and nail and some even went to court to get that label off their child, so I'm shocked that SOME (because I just can't believe that ALL or even most would want this) overweight bw would want an "emotionally/mentally defective" label attached to themselves."-

Exactly! Sensible people who are in touch with common human norms RUN FOR THEIR LIVES away from stigmatizing labels. AAs have adopted a mindset of adopting stigmatizing labels in the hope that others will feel sorry for us and therefore help us.

AAs have also adopted the magical thinking that we can somehow wish away the fact that certain things have stigmas attached to them. We refuse to accept the reality that there's NO way to take the "sting" out of certain sordid issues.

I ask those who want to publicly embrace yet another stigmatizing label: How has this strategy worked for AAs so far? I submit to y'all that this has been a disaster. And now folks want to have yet another "scarlet letter" printed on our foreheads? ["'T' for Traumatized By Sordid Experiences"]

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Enigma said...

I came back this morning to complete reading this discussion because it is a very good one that we are having. There are some very salient points being made here. I am noting, to my chagrin, that I need to clarify something in one of my comments again. Le sigh. (It would seem that I do not need to try to quickly rattle off my ideas in 5 minutes or less while at work. If next time it seems that I am "speaking" in absolutes about a subject, ask me to clarify. I do believe that there exist some shades of grey. LOL.)

To wit, I am aware that the ladies here are aware that there ARE underlying emotional/mental issues for weight gain. What I meant is that the ladies who participate here do understand that there exist emotional and mental issues for weight gain for some bbw's and it is not neccesarily all about just grubbing down and not caring about themselves. I did not intend to imply that ALL bbw's have such issues & this is why they are overweight.

Geeze, if nothing else I am learning about the need to practice communicating via writing more clearly and succintly anyway. LOL. I hope I did a better job THIS time. ;)

OH - and I am ALL team Tracy about this statement she made:

I can't get back the years I lost, and I damn sure am too busy having fun to look back, but I would like to catch that young woman or any woman that has gone thru a similar situation and give them the smack they need to moooove on!!

Yay Tracy YAY!! I totally agree. That is why I did not mind sharing where I was/am cause I am on. my. way. and I am enjoying the journey. LOL.

I am getting back to work and looking forward to the next blog entry. Have a great day ladies.

Khadija said...

It occurs to me that I need to drop the "diplomacy speak" for a moment and make something plain. AAs have allowed pity party culture and recovery talk to become so deeply entrenched among us that we've lost touch of many basic, HUMAN norms.

One basic human trait that crosses ALL cultures and centuries is that normal humans have a strong aversion to being around sickness and disease! Hanging around sick and diseased people is contrary to the natural human instinct for self-preservation.

This is why, except for saintly people, there usually has to be a special relationship before most people will hang around a diseased person. The anti-surival choice to hang around and tend to diseased people is why many saints were canonized in the first place!

This is why the promise to hang around "in sickness and in health" is one of the promises extracted by marriage vows! If it was normal to stick around with diseased people, there would be no perceived need to make THAT promise part of wedding vows.

NO amount of popularizing therapy talk is going to override the normal HUMAN instinct to get away from sickness and disease. Especially not when there are so many healthy people available to affiliate with.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Sister Seeking said...

Salaam’Alaikum Khadija,

Great post! I’m still pounding the pavement as well, and have picked up another walking buddy in the process!

:--)

If you get a chance please check out:

http://www.drnorthrup.com/

Shortly after I had my C-section, I ate a heavy meal, and ended up with digestive distress. I saw Dr. Northrop on PBS/WETA in my area, and heard mention encouraging a macrobiotic diet to her patients.

I tried it when I returned home from the hospital the first two months, and felt extremely energized.

Salaam

Khadija said...

SisterSeeking/Miriam,

Wa Alaikum As Salaam!

Good for you! {raised fist salute}

Thank you for your kind words about the post and the link info. I truly appreciate it.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Tracy said...

Hey there!

Sorry about the late response, I lost a battle with a box of Nilla wafers and had to run them off...

Allrighty, I agree with Enigma (hi there and thanks! ;D), I think we got this all twisted because of my lack of clarification on a few things.

First and foremost, thank you all again for your support in these last months, I really appreciate it and I hope that I can help you all in any way I can (smiles).

Stating that most overweight women had gone thru some sort of trauma - that was generalizing and yes it was wrong. The "overweight" that I was talking about isn't Sallie that needs to push back from the table and go for a run; it is the woman that is literally eating herself to death, the one that is way on the far end of obese on the bmi.

In no way, shape or form do I want BW to put on the "badge of honor" of abuse and shout it in the streets. We have had enough of crying and commiserating and not getting anything accomplished. If anything, I want us to get off of our collective butts, get the fog out of our minds, and change for the better. But to reach that woman that thinks that she can't do it, I'm willing to share my story. Only to show her that she CAN DO IT!! If someone wants to think ill of me and stay away, it is their loss. Like I said before "Another BW Stigma? I think I got a blank space on my back somewhere..."

Yes Evia, you were correct! My message is now and forever will be "No more excuses, just get on with it!" Just do it was copyright infringment, so we gotta flow with that one....
And as for the normals, cut me some slack, I am transitioning from fat girl to drop dead knock out - I mean normal, so a few of my old attitudes are hanging on.

Tho I will say this: One of the many reasons that I considered losing weight was because of a entry you made maybe a year and an half ago. It was about someone attending a mixer and complaining that the women were too big.

That person noticed. And judged.

And you cant tell me that when you see a person so big that just moving their legs to walk is agony, the first thing you think is " Did I pay my telephone bill?" Noooooo, you think "Dag, how did you get so big!!" Everybody does it!

My solution - you don't like stigma, or rude comments, or stares? Lose the weight!

BTW, thank you for giving SPP our first shout out! My second year anniversary will be in August - time flies!

Ladies, gotta go starting to get a charlie horse! Just want to finish out by saying that while we should take our health more seriously, we should take a little time out to chill a bit. Learn to laugh, forgive and moooove on!

Peace to you all!

Evia said...

Khadija, as I think you'd mentioned, employers are now stepping it up and asking for job candidates social networking sites as a pre-employment assessment/screening tool. I just got a tweet about that. The fact is that for some jobs, even before they ask a person to come in for the interview, they've already had their cyber investigators checking candidates' facebook, myspace, twitter, blogs, etc. pages since so many people foolishly think that they can hide out on the internet and talk about all of their issues, their bigotry, perverted desires, etc.

I have a relative who worked in cyberspace security for a bank, and all he and a bunch of other computer professionals did was sit in a large room at these consoles and watch a huge radar-like screen and defend against cyberspace intruders who were trying to break through the bank's computer security system. Naturally, they could track almost exactly where some of the attacks were coming from. That was a few years ago, so I'm sure the tracking apparatus is more sophisticated now.

And I can't believe the number of people who use their real names online!!! For tax purposes, some of us have to use our real names, but for most other cases, I hope bw are burying their real identities under several layers, especially with this talk about mental, emotional, and physical health issues. As you pointed out, stigmas cannot be "wished" away.

Khadija said...

Tracy,

You said, "My solution - you don't like stigma, or rude comments, or stares? Lose the weight!"-

{raised fist salute} This is the "reality check" bottom line.
____________________

Evia,

Yes, employers are sifting through folks' social media contacts to screen potential employees. And not just potential employers. Trial lawyers are sifting through this sort of material as well. Through a part of the trial process called "discovery," I'VE been scrutinizing some opposing witnesses' email, etc. for some of my cases.-

It amazes me how thoughtless so many people are about their use of these various gadgets. It's like they don't realize that they are creating an electronic paper trail that is ETERNAL. I've always been hyperconscious of any paper trails that I create. Paper trails can come back to bite you in the buttocks.

Here's part of a newsletter that markets articles to lawyers (with emphasis added):

"Depose witnesses about their use of social media. It can pay dividends for you!

Many litigation attorneys still do not know about social media tools (and why they need to know about them). Social media sites are on the Internet and on mobile phones so people can share information about themselves. They are cheap or free to the user. You have undoubtedly heard of some social media tools like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blogs.

If your client, your witness, or the adverse witness has used a social media tool, then there is personal information there about them. And the information may be disastrous to the credibility of witnesses.-

Twitter, for example, advertises that “Twitter is a free service that lets you keep in touch with people through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?”

If a plaintiff has used Twitter to tell others what he/she has been doing after the back-injury vehicle accident, then potentially you can find out more than the claimant wants you to know. The value of the back injury goes way down if claimant has Twittered that he had just finished surfboarding and is on his way to the big beer party at his girlfriend’s house. That junior IT person being deposed may well have a personal blog on the internet discussing his job, in which he blogged that the “litigation hold” is a farce because the backup tapes are being overwritten and the lawyers are too stupid to ask him what to do!

During a California trial for vehicular DUI manslaughter, in the sentencing portion of the case, the district attorney presented pictures of defendant’s partying and drinking, taken from defendant's MySpace page, to show defendant's lack of remorse for the crime. Defendant's attorney said his client's sentence of five plus years of prison came partly as a result of the client's MySpace page.
-

As for blogs — even corporate executives are using personal blogs. Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO of Sun Microsystems encourages his employees to blog. Some 3,000 of them--10% of the company's payroll--do. Schwartz has led by example, integrating blogging into his leadership life. In a 2005 opinion piece in the Harvard Business Review, titled "If You Want to Lead, Blog,” Schwarz wrote: "For executives, having a [personal] blog is not going to be a matter of choice, any more than using e-mail is today.”

Chances are good that your client, the adverse party, and witnesses on both sides may have comments about themselves — their health — their prejudices – and even about the litigation in which they are involved. Good or bad self-comments about the witnesses or the witness’s statements about the subject of the litigation may be available if you simply ask the right questions in discovery!"

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Ensayn1 said...

Respect Khadija, this is informative as always. I like the idea of keeping "weeds" from growing our biological garden. It's quite appropriate. This leads me to another aspect of our daily health many of our women suffer (and men to a lesser degree), that being constipation. I know for a fact MOST people want to avoid the conversation of bowel movements and how important that is for our overall health. I have spoken with many women that have expressed they only respond to peristalsis 3-4 times a week, not knowing that they are walking around physically "intoxicated", meaning suffering headache, joint pain and nausea thinking they are suffering from some other malady when in fact they are toxic. To help alleviate this problem drinking 64 plus ounces of water each day will assist peristalsis. Also, eating an 80% veggies, live veggies, will help. But, most of all taking intestinal cleansers fortified with pysillium husks will relieve this problem. We should all do this whether we are vegans, vegitarians or whatever your eating style is. And, again, another thing many many Black people especially AA's refuse to hear is that the pig was not made for human consumption. WE HAVE TO STOP EATING THE FLESH OF SWINE. I think the pig is killing more of us than we know. A good read is, What You Don't Know May Be Killing You by Dr. Don Colbert. I believe if we, Black people, African Americans, don't get our own health in check nothing else will come to solid, sucessful, beneifcial fruition. Sucess is often the ability to duplicate the thing that made us sucessful in the first place. If we don't live long enough under healthy conditions the ability to duplicate sucess will be severly thwarted.

Khadija said...

Ensayn,

Thank you for your kind words about the post. I truly appreciate it.

You said, "This leads me to another aspect of our daily health many of our women suffer (and men to a lesser degree), that being constipation. I know for a fact MOST people want to avoid the conversation of bowel movements and how important that is for our overall health."-

{chuckling} Funny you should mention bowel movements. It's yet another example of how our people have normalized some pretty strange things. Since people rarely discuss the topic, I'm always shocked to discover how many people are constipated on a regular basis. I'm shocked at how many people go several days without having even one bowel movement; and think that's "normal."

I'm surprised that folks haven't considered the simple idea that whatever is consumed should be working its way out of one's body. On that note, I've found that drinking wheatgrass juice produces a greater volume of stools being eliminated, as well as softer stools.

I don't know if this is true or just a food activist urban legend, but I vaguely recall reading somewhere that his autopsy discovered that John Wayne had something like 25 lbs. of waste in his colon when he died.

In any event, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the extra weight that many of us are carrying around is actually old waste sitting around in our colons.

About the swine---I've stopped talking about the swine (although I was never an anti-swine evangelist) because I've accepted that AAs are not going to give it up. The swine seems to have a place of honor on our collective palate.

As you noted, the bottom line is that our other efforts are for naught if we don't have our health.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

anna (tertiary#anna) said...

(talking about poo makes me giggle, sorry.)

But you want firm, not soft stool. Think of the difference between squeezing out a tube of toothpaste vs. a handful of clay. It’s going to be easier to get the firm stuff out from all the nooks and crannies.

Fiber can act as a laxative, and will help firm the stool (that's why the pysillium husks work -- it's insoluble fiber, and so the body just passes it through.)

Please talk to a reputable nutritionist before doing a cleanse. Your body has natural bacterial flora, as well as basic caloric and protein needs.

So eliminating some things are useful (like donuts and coffee, my weaknesses), but they're going to be things you probably need to cut down overall, not just for a few days.

The effects seen by some of these cleanses are eye-catching, but not really doing much for your health. At worst, they can throw your natural intestinal flora and blood sugar levels out of whack as well as causing your body to break down some of your muscle tissue to use as a protein source. Losing muscle mass slows your metabolism, which causes problems of its own.

The John Wayne story smells fishy to me. You can have impacted fecal matter, and this will cause your digestive system to be less responsive. But it won't be too long before the sheer weight of the food you've consumed will cause you noticeable distress.

Think about how uncomfortable it feels when your stomach or bladder is too full. Your intestines are also made of muscle tissue, and this hurts when it's stretched too far or compressed too much.

I've got a bias: I'm strongly opposed to the pseudo-science that gets peddled by the media lately. It's insidious, because it sounds so reasonable, not like junk-science that is so obviously bad, it’s easy to automatically discredit.

Think about what your body does, also why and how. This will help empower you to separate the wheat from the chaff.

after all that, I think I should swap my donuts for bran muffins.

anna (tertiary#anna) said...

Oh -- I want to be clear: I agree that sham-science can also come out of the established medical community. It's too bad that those who should know better, don't do better. So I'm stressing vigilance and critical thinking, not blind adherence.

Khadija said...

Anna,

You said, "But you want firm, not soft stool. Think of the difference between squeezing out a tube of toothpaste vs. a handful of clay. It’s going to be easier to get the firm stuff out from all the nooks and crannies."-

I should have been more precise. "Clay" is the consistency I had in mind when I made the comment. LOL! As opposed to the hardened cement "bricks" that I've heard so many people complain about.

You said, "Oh -- I want to be clear: I agree that sham-science can also come out of the established medical community. It's too bad that those who should know better, don't do better. So I'm stressing vigilance and critical thinking, not blind adherence."-

Oh, I wouldn't necessarily call it "sham science." Scientific theories and the professional consensus can (and do) legitimately evolve. It seems to me that medicine is more of an "art" than most people realize. For example, from a litigation point of view, I've watched the medical/scientific opinion evolve regarding so-called "shaken baby syndrome" evolve over the years.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

anna (tertiary#anna) said...

"Scientific theories and the professional consensus can (and do) legitimately evolve. It seems to me that medicine is more of an "art" than most people realize."

I absolutelyagree.

I was thinking more about the people who, in spite of formal training, fail to keep current in their field, and spout information that has already (or should really be) discredited. As well as those who use their training to establish their social reputation, rather than educating the people they are supposed to serve.

Evia said...

And you cant tell me that when you see a person so big that just moving their legs to walk is agony, the first thing you think is " Did I pay my telephone bill?" Noooooo, you think "Dag, how did you get so big!!" Everybody does it!

Tracy, it sounds like you're talking about a morbidly obese 400+ lb person here and whether a person appears morbidly obese also depends to some extent on their height and body build. 99.999% of the morbidly obese people I see are on TV. I rarely ever see people like this in person because maybe they can't walk?

I DO see people who are overweight, but this is so common these days until, NO, I do not think about or gawk at overweight bw. But I don't know how other folks think.

Practically ALL of my bf friends and associates are overweight to some extent. They talk about it often allude to it. And there are so many bw who are overweight in the bc near me until it's a very common sight. That's a big part of the problem: it's considered NORMAL or at least not out of bounds among many black folks for bw to be overweight.

In general, it's a mistake to always think that people are looking at you and thinking the worst of you as a bw. In my experience, this is just not true.

Evia said...

Khadija, here's an article about a city asking for applicants' social media passwords on a job application. I wonder how many folks who have these really foul sites or sites where they tell all of their business know that this is on the way. And if you refuse to give them the passwords, I wonder what happens then.

As a matter of fact, some people would definitely lose their jobs if their jobs were to dig into their blogs and websites.


http://consumerist.com/5296940/applying-for-a-job-great-give-us-your-google-and-facebook-passwords

Khadija said...

Evia,

Thanks for the link to the article. Oh yes, social media screening is definitely the wave of the future. And "the future" as in five minutes from now.

But it's not just people's thoughtless use of the social media that I find amazing. It's their thoughtless use of ALL of these gadgets.

Being a military history buff, years ago I made mental notes of how many guerrilla leaders have been assassinated via cell and/or satellite phone use. Chechen leaders and Palestinians have been assassinated by missiles locked onto their cell/satellite phone positions. Russian/Israeli missiles came down on their heads while they were talking on the cell/satellite phone.

[For the curious, look up the Wikipedia entry about the 1st Chechen president, Dzhokhar Dudayev. He caught a missile while talking on a satellite phone.]

I don't know how it works (maybe involving GPS, etc.), but apparently there are ways to find and track a particular cell/satellite phone's EXACT location (at minimum while it's turned on). The police have also used this capability to track the course of murder victims being moved from various locations. Of course, I've heard that serious, professional criminals (the type whose cases are in the federal, NOT state, court system) have figured out some ways around this.

In any event, one has to assume that the government has always made provisions to have technological "back doors" into ALL of these gadgets. These gadgets were never private; and they're not anonymous. Folks need to understand that. And not act as if these gadgets are somehow an extension of whatever privacy they have while sitting in their living rooms.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

ActsofFaithBlog said...

Don't really have anything to add, but the comments were as usual offering something to think about. I'm going for a walk later!

A reader said...

What saddens me is that some people here are not hearing that some of their readers may have felt legitimately belittled and alienated by the approach they took. Most black women are overweight and this is a state of affairs that must be changed but you can't help or reach anyone by ridiculing or disrespecting them. This does not mean anyone is asking to be coddled. If the campaign to uplift black women is meant to include educated, middle and upper class, fit and trim black women only then nevermind.

Khadija said...

A Reader,

As far as I'm concerned, your comment confirms just how illegitimate these "I insist that you validate my self-pity" demands are.

Why is the pity party MORE important than life itself?-

First of all, it's a matter of priorities. What do we want? AA women who feel "alienated" and ARE ALIVE? Versus AA women who had their pity party validated and ARE DEAD before their time?

"Alienated + ALIVE" sounds much better to me than "Feeling validated + DEAD."-

Why is the pity party MORE important than life itself?-

The other way in which your comment confirms the illegitimacy of these "Validate my self-pity" demands is that I see you've worked in totally unrelated class-based insecurities: What in the world does any of this have to do with being "educated, middle and upper class"? Answer: Absolutely nothing.

Taking regular walks to lose weight and get into better shape is FREE. Doing some calisthenics inside one's home is FREE. There's no class-based or education-based entry requirement for getting regular exercise. If anything, your comment lets me know that I need to have LESS patience with these dysfunctional, class-based insecurities in future conversations. Some of us just don't want to let these internally-generated, life-hindering insecurities go. It's literally "till death do some of you part" with that particular problem.

Why is the pity party MORE important than life itself?-

Validating many AAW's self-pity is NOT working. For the most part, AAW are NOT doing anything to preserve their health. Meanwhile, the numbers of obesity-related deaths continue to escalate.

Why aren't you "saddened" by THIS? Why aren't your comments focused on these PREVENTABLE deaths? I would also ask, why aren't any of you pity partiers ALARMED by this fact, like I am? Why is seeking pity party validation y'all's highest priority here? A higher priority above and beyond reducing the numbers of these preventable deaths? What's that about?

Why is the pity party MORE important than life itself?-

These skewed priorities DO suggest that what pity partiers actually want is to be "coddled" in their self-pity.

And no, I generally don't "hear" stuff that enables...more...AAW...to...continue...to...DIE...
before...their...time. No, I'm not trying to hear anything that enables these preventable deaths to continue.

For me, efforts to preserve AAW's lives are more important than preserving their comfort zones. I value LIFE ITSELF much more than I value pity.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.